The morning of Erev Yom Kippur, 78 households responded to the call to aid those facing food and housing insecurity, both of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Households donated meal kits, hundreds of hotel-sized toiletries and new underwear.
“I want to extend gratitude for your Mitzvah Morning” said Diane Rheos, Executive Director of Portland Backpack, which received the food donations. “You contributed 745 food sacks to kids who need help having enough on the weekends. Knowing that 300 people or more were all involved in touching each of those food sacks gives me such joy. All those kids, parents, working together.”
Mitzvah Morning was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Portland Jewish Academy and Eastside Jewish Commons.
“People have missed their opportunity over the last six-plus months to volunteer in person and connect with others. COVID-19 is still very much an issue, but we’ve learned creative ways for people to be alone but together in support of others,” says Caron Blau Rothstein, who coordinated the event with Elana Cohn-Rozansky. Caron serves as Director of Community Planning and Allocations for JFGP, and Elana is the Service Learning Coordinator for PJA.
Participants assembled and collected items in their homes and then dropped off their donations at one of two drive-through, socially distanced sites. Participants dropped off their donations the morning of Sept. 27 for Portland Backpack and Transition Projects, which received the two trunkloads of unused, travel-sized toiletries and new adult underwear for those experiencing houselessness.
"It was a fabulous program and the best way to go into Yom Kippur," says Caron.
“There is nothing better than working side by side to make a difference,” adds Diane. “We have a wonderful community and each of you help us make it so. These are days when remembering how much we can care for each other is vital for our health. Thank you for the reminder.”