Family Volunteer Day Makes Giving Back Fun

January 10, 2023

Family Volunteer Day Makes Giving Back Fun

On December 29, over 50 volunteers from 15 families came together on Family Volunteer Day to help people in need across our community. The popular event took place during winter break, an idea that came to Megan Koziel, JF&CS Volunteer Coordinator, after the MJCCA approached her about having Food Pantry donation barrels at the MJCCA Family Fun Day. Megan stated, “We wanted to give families something to do during winter break. Hosting a volunteer event with a social component seemed like the best of both worlds.” The event quickly filled up with families delighted by the idea of engaging their children in hands-on volunteer activities.

JF&CS Family Volunteering Committee members, Marissa Share and Sami Tanenbaum, planned and co-led the volunteer projects. Marissa started her relationship with JF&CS as an Artist Collective volunteer and is enjoying her new role as a Family Volunteering Committee member.

“It has been so much fun! I got the chance to learn about a whole new way we can help at JF&CS. I love volunteering in the Artist Collective, which is where we create art projects with adults with intellectual & developmental disabilities, and this Family Volunteer Day allowed me to get my daughter involved too,” said Marissa.

Sami Tanenbaum has used her experience as Camp Director at Aurora Day Camp to plan the event. “It was exciting to use my strengths in planning and working with kids to help create this event. I am happy to make the holiday season brighter for all who we are helping,” Sami said.

Kids, parents, and grandparents volunteered together to sort food donations for the Kosher Food Pantry, assemble dental hygiene kits for the Ben Massell Dental Clinic (BMDC), and create New Year's Eve celebration kits for residents and staff at the JF&CS Zimmerman-Horowitz Independent Living Program (Z-H ILP) homes. Thank you to the volunteer’s families that also graciously brought donations to the sort. Families had the opportunity to rotate through the projects, getting the chance to serve the community in many ways.

Before Food Pantry donations hit the shelves, the cans needed to be sorted into categories (i.e. vegetables, beans, fruit, or misc. items). Families jumped right in, grabbing the cans, reading labels, and organizing them. “It was really kind of fun,” said nine-year-old Jonathan after putting each can into the correct bin.

In another room, families were filling dental hygiene kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss for the BMDC. Volunteers even added sweet, encouraging notes for dental patients that they lovingly called SMILE cards. One note read, “Smiling looks good on you!” and another, “You are amazing!”

Rachel, age 12, got creative on the New Years Eve celebration photo backdrops using bright markers and stickers to make her designs stand out. "I really hope they enjoy their New Years Eve Celebration kits," she said. "I love celebrating New Year's Eve - it is a fresh start," she said wisely.

By the end of the event, families:

  • Sorted 12 barrels of donated food for the JF&CS Food Pantry
  • Created 33 New Year’s Eve celebration kits, as well as festive photo backdrops for the residents and staff at the Z-H ILP homes
  • Assembled 100 dental hygiene kits and SMILE cards for patients of the BMDC

To celebrate their accomplishments, families enjoyed hot chocolate while connected with fellow volunteers and reminisced on the impact they made in the community. Benjamin, age 7, said, "I really enjoy volunteering and helping people. It makes me happy.”

Just days later, the adults in the Z-H ILP homes had a fabulous time celebrating the New Year and loved using the fun decorations the families had created for them.

Z-H ILP residents and staff enjoy the New Year's Eve Celebration Kits below.

The JF&CS Family Volunteering Committee Members: Adi Feen, Laura Holtzclaw, Tiffany Landes, Bobby Nooromid, Amy Rosen, Jessica Sacks, Marissa Share, Ilana Shure, Sami Tanenbaum, and Tova Tritt.