By Janis Fontaine
Many hands make light work, even when some of those hands belong to kids.
For the second year, the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County hosted Jewish Community in Action Day to coincide with Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 15. Hundreds of volunteers helped those in need by doing the labor on nearly 20 hands-on projects benefiting a variety of charities.
Rabbi Josh Broide, director of the federation’s Center for Jewish Engagement, spearheaded the program.
“It came about because people were always asking what we could do with the kids on the day off from school,” Broide said. Parents wanted their children to spend the day productively, in service to others, and it was a sentiment that resonated with the Jewish community.
“We thought, instead of everyone doing something different at all these different places, we could centralize things. We brought them all together in one place.”
Children could volunteer at several jobs, like bagging food for food pantries or cleaning shoes for kids who didn’t have any. “You meet like-minded people with similar passions, make new friends and broaden the community,” Broide said.
Two charities that help children also benefited from the students’ sweat equity this year.
One was Touch A Heart, which helps children living in poverty. For this year’s project, kids assembled “birthday in a bag” kits for children in foster homes. The kits contained most of what you need for a birthday party: cake mix, paper goods, candles and a small gift. Touch A Heart also promotes volunteerism.
Also on site was In Jacob’s Shoes, a charity that distributes shoes, backpacks, school supplies and athletic gear to South Florida children in need. The group was started in memory of Jacob S. Zweig by his family, and since 2009, In Jacob’s Shoes has given away more than 70,000 pairs of new and refurbished shoes to children in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Some are homeless, some live in shelters, some are in foster care, and others have aged out of foster care.
Most of the shoes are donated and are gently used, so volunteers had to sort, clean and restore the shoes to “pristine condition.”
“Giving back and doing good is at the core of our faith,” Broide said.
Usually, parents are modeling altruism for their children, but sometimes it’s the children doing the inspiring, he said. “We’ve seen kids get involved in a project and that project grows so that the parents and even the synagogue are taking on bigger roles.”
Broide says another message also is making him proud of his community. Palm Beach County has a lot of synagogues and federations and groups, but the era of focusing on the differences is passing, he said. If charity begins at home, maybe getting along with other people does too. Global and national unity, it seems, may start with community.
Broide says his community “is less divisive. In fact, we’ve never worked better together.”
For information about the South County Jewish Federation, call 852-3100 or visit www.jewishboca.org.
The Cowboy Ball returns
Since its inception in 1982 following the mysterious disappearance of its namesake, George Snow, the George Show Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $10 million in educational grants, with scholarships of more than $1 million in 2017 alone.
The fund’s goal is to give one scholarship to every public school in the county, but a million dollars won’t buy as much education as it did in 1982, so each spring, the George Snow Scholarship Fund hosts its signature fundraiser, the Cowboy Ball. The ball features food from local restaurants, a whiskey tasting, music and dancing.
The ball is from 6 to 11 p.m. Feb. 17 at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 595 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets are $175. Sponsorships are still available. For more information, call 347-6799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family time will be the focus at the Hanley Foundation’s 23rd annual Family Picnic at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. The event raises money for substance abuse prevention programs, which reached more than 28,000 students in 250 schools in 2017.
The benefit will include a one-of-a-kind silent auction, gourmet picnic fare, face painting, animal encounters and classic outdoor activities.
The money will support prevention programs in public and private schools in Palm Beach County, part of the foundation’s core mission, along with access to high-quality treatment of substance use disorders, and the education of professionals and paraprofessionals.
The family picnic also has a subliminal message: Statistics show that eating dinner as a family can reduce the chances a teen will try cigarettes, drugs or alcohol. Why not start with a picnic dinner?
The picnic will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 4 at the croquet center, 700 Florida Mango Road. Tickets are $195 for ages 18 and older, $50 for ages 4-17, and free for ages 3 and younger. To purchase tickets, call 268-2358 or visit hanleyfoundation.org.
Health fest for mind, body
The MindBody Expo 2018 will bring more than 60 educational exhibits, fitness demos, cooking classes, lectures, music and dance, food and a wide variety of vendors to both Boca Raton and Delray Beach in February.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 17, Old School Square (51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach) will host the Expo. On Feb. 25, Sanborn Square (72 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton) will be home base for this wellness and lifestyle event.
Since 2013, this event created by social entrepreneur Sandra Tribioli has given dozens of small businesses an opportunity to reach the public with their products. The expo also offers guests an opportunity to help kids by grabbing one of the VIP Tote Bags ($10 each) for a Cause, which benefit the Delray Beach Children’s Garden and the Milagro Center. Exhibitors, sponsors and contributors all pitched in with inserts. Only 100 bags are available at each event. Included in the bags are two chiropractor visits and a massage, discounts and samples from Third Living Essentials and Whole Foods.
Proceeds go to the charities.
For more information, visit www.mindbodyexpo.net.