The local chapter of the Jewish Federation is fundraising for New Jersey disaster aid. It will also give 100 families turkeys and pies this Thanksgiving.
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Home to the Jerry Doliner Food Bank, the Volusia-Flagler Jewish Federation, headquartered in Ormond Beach, is currently soliciting donations to aid Superstorm Sandy victims in New Jersey.
“As we have done in past disasters, we get from our national organization names of people, regardless of race or religion, who really need help,” said Gloria Max, executive director. “And we send them the funds directly to where they live in the areas that were hardest hit.”
This is common practice for the nonprofit group which, in addition to ongoing local initiatives conducted throughout the year, raises funds for individuals around the world, following hardships.
After 9/11, they raised $45,000 to split between 15 victims. After Hurricane Katrina, $30,600 was raised for 15 families. They’ve fundraised for anthrax scares, relief efforts in Haiti and following the aftermath of local natural disasters — during last year’s wildfire outbreak, for example, $7,000 was donated to 12 families throughout Volusia and Flagler counties.
Max’s husband, Ray, is also a volunteer. He runs the food bank. They’ve lived in Ormond for the past 29 years.
But the federation focuses on more than just fundraising. For the past 16 years, it has also led a School Supply Project, donating filled backpacks to more than 64,000 students in that time and almost 7,000 students this school year alone.
“We receive hundreds of letters from principals, teachers, counselors, parents and students, letting us know how grateful they are,” Max said. “The students pay us back big time, by having toilet paper drives for us.”
It may seem hard to believe, she added, but toilet paper is one of the hottest commodities in their care packages. Years ago, the federation donated toilet paper to a family, and Max saw firsthand the impact her group had on the community.
“One of the youngsters, about 5 years old, was so excited that we gave them toilet paper that he yelled out, ‘Mom we finally have some toilet paper,’” she remembered. “It was as if I had given him an expensive toy. I asked the mother, ‘You don't have toilet paper?’ And she said, ‘I can barely afford food.' … (Instead), she said (they used) the Yellow Pages of the phone book and free newspaper.”
To contribute to the Jewish Federation's most recent drive, mail checks to 470 Andalusia Ave., Ormond Beach, Fla., 32174, with “Hurricane Relief” written on the memo line.
Everyone who donates will receive a tax-deductible “thank you” letter.
“We are a Jewish organization but 98% of the people we help are not of the Jewish faith,” Max added.
The group also plans to donate turkeys and pumpkin pies to 100 families this Thanksgiving. But they are currently seeking side dishes for these meals, as well.
To donate food or funds, call 672-0294.