Kits for Kids: A Tikkun Olam Project for the Whole Synagogue

June 6, 2017Eve Silverman

Has your sisterhood been looking for a new and meaningful social action project? Have you been trying to involve youth or others in the congregation in your sisterhood programs? Kits for Kids, formerly called Bedtime Kits for Kids, could be the perfect tikkun olam project for your sisterhood to introduce to your synagogue community.

Since 2006, the sisterhood of Temple Sholom in Vancouver, BC, has been running a social action project that prepares backpacks for children who unexpectedly have had to leave their homes for emergency shelters. While the details may vary from year to year, the Sisterhood of Temple Sholom Kits for Kids project for the current year provides each child with an age-appropriate backpack or kit containing the following:

  • School supplies
  • Clothes for Vancouver’s wet and cool fall and winter weather, including hoodies, raingear, gloves, and sleepwear
  • Books
  • Toys (often plush toys or bath toys that each child can take with them and call their own in their new environment)

The kits are assembled over a two-day period. One day is dedicated to sorting all of the donated items. This is a bigger job than one might imagine! The second day is the fun part where Temple Sholom school children help with the packing of the backpacks. By extending the tikkun olam element to these younger Temple Sholom members, the entire community is involved – the children, their families and the sisterhood volunteers – who all welcome the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of a children in crisis.

More than one dozen shelters have benefited from this project since it began. This year, after surveying past recipients, the project will deliver 100 backpacks to five different shelters that house women and their children who are fleeing abusive situations. Often the children arrive at the shelters with little more than the clothes they are wearing.

Of course a project like this benefits and sometimes requires support from the greater community. The Al Roadburg Foundation of Vancouver, BC, has provided the financial support to keep this project running year after year. Supplies are generously donated by temple congregants, and additional funding is received from the National Council of Jewish Women. By reaching out to these partners and to the congregation as a whole, sisterhood has created an opportunity for the entire community to work together as a team in a special and very worthwhile project.

Kits for Kids provides local children with a little something they can call their own and a starter kit to help them through a difficult period of transition. With Kits for Kids, your sisterhood can offer your volunteers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children in crisis while at the same time bringing your entire congregation together for a tikkun olam project that is appropriate and meaningful for all ages.

Eve Silverman is an executive trustee of the Temple Sholom Sisterhood in Vancouver, BC. This piece is republished with permission from Women of Reform Judaism's newsletter.

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