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December 31, 2004 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-12-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Mitzvah
Mentshes

Hundreds of volunteers help
non-Jewish and Jewish
groups in need at Christmas.

SHARON LUCKERMAN
Staff Writer

or about a decade, the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Detroit has been spreading a lit-
tle holiday cheer in the secular community
through its Mitzvah Day event, which drew 600 vol-
unteers this year to work in nursing homes, soup
kitchens, children's homes and similar sites.
"We're there so workers can go home and celebrate
their holiday with their families," said Regina Colton,
of Birmingham, co-chair of the event with John Marx
of West Bloomfield. "For those who don't have family
to b ao to, we volunteers are there to make them feel
like somebody cares about them on the holidays.
Because Christmas fell on Shabbat this year, the

3)

Top: Stephane and Rachel Lubin, 11, of Farmington
Hills cut snowflake decorations to be distributed to resi-
dents at the Pablo Davis Elder Living Center in Detroit.

Below: Laura Grodin, 12, and Madeline Corsin, 12, both
of West Bloomfield decorate holiday ornaments and mag-
nets at the Pablo Davis Elder Living Center in Detroit.

12/31
2004

18

Three generations of the Sherbin family volunteered
during Mitzvah Day. Top row: David and Abbe
Sherbin of Franklin, grandparents Libby and Jerry
Sherbin of Beverly Hills. Bottom row: Liza, 11,
Anna 9, and cousin Baila, 10, visiting from
California.

annual event was switched to the day before. Last
year, 800 volunteers were needed; but because fewer
agencies need volunteers on Christmas Eve day, fewer
volunteers participated.
After breakfast at the Max M. Fisher Federation
Building in Bloomfield Township, volunteers were
divided into small groups that helped at a total of 25
agencies by delivering gifts, playing bingo, preparing
and passing out meals at sites that were Christian,
non-denominational and Jewish.
At Grace Center of Hope in Pontiac, 18 mitzvah
volunteers, including teens and seniors, helped stock
the food pantry with canned goods that arrived from
a holiday can drive. They also prepared and served the
holiday meal to 120 people.
After getting a tour of the facility, the volunteers
got down to business, said Keith Hayes, Grace
Centers' volunteer coordinator. They gave some of
our staff a day off and assisted in any way we needed.
There was definitely a need for them to be here. They
worked out so well. It was a blessing to us all
around."
But the value of this program wasn't just learning to
give this season, said several of the younger volun-
teers.
Anna Sherbin, 9, of West Bloomfield, joined her
parents, grandparents, sister and a cousin at the
Salvation Army Harbor Light in Detroit. Peeling car-
rots with her cousin and cutting pies and serving folks
on the lunch line, Anna said she learned that "not
everybody has a home, but they're still good people
and deserve to have food and a place to call home.
Her sister, Liza, 11,
said, It was a cool
experience" to make
Christmas special for
homeless people.
Over Shabbat dinner
that evening, grandpar-
ents Libby and Jerry
Sherbin of Beverly Hills
expressed how wonder-
ful it was to work with
their children and
grandchildren to help
those in need.
"We do mitzvah proj-
ects all year round," said
the girls' mother, Abbe
Sherbin, a Mitzvah Day
site captain. Its the
most effective way to
teach children — by
setting an example. My
daughters had family —
grandparents and great-
grandparents — who
were once on the receiv-
ing end and who bene-
fited from the good
works of other charita-
ble organizations."
Co-chair Colton agrees and adds, "The best thing
about Mitzvah Day is that it builds awareness of our
community needs. For some of our volunteers, what
starts as a one-time commitment can become a long-
standing relationship with an agency." Fl

33

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