On Tuesday evening, February 9, Chazaq and Chickens for Shabbos held another beautiful distribution at Congregation Ner Mordechai in Kew Gardens, this time dedicated l’zeicher nishmas Zalman ben Yosef. The focus this time was on m’lamdim, moros, and g’rushos. Chazaq worked with Sister to Sister, a comprehensive resource and support network for Jewish divorced women, and invited women from this network to attend. We have written about the details of the distributions in previous articles. This article will focus on the way this help is offered. The volunteers spend hours unboxing and sorting donated items by size and item. On the day of the distribution there is a volunteer for every table. This makes it possible for each person who comes to be greeted with a smile. Robbie Aboff, Chazaq Events Coordinator, explained, “We want people to be excited to come. We want to give back to the community.”

All the volunteers are trained to welcome and to give personal attention like being a personal shopper. Also, there is a person whose only job is to greet the people when they first enter. There are a lot of stimuli at once. It helps to have someone smile at you, welcome you, and thank you for coming. The volunteers also help direct the participants according to their needs.

Robbie Aboff added, “They start with a smile and they aren’t allowed to leave without a smile.”

One woman confided in Robbie that “the distribution was perfect. I’m a single mom and it’s good to know the community is behind me. I’m not in it alone.”

That is really what this is about. There was a beautiful turnout with over 200 families. Many vendors donated goods. CVS, Amazon, etc. donated items to Olam Chesed.

Included was a grab-and-go makeup giveaway for husbands to give to their wives as a present. Items included jackets for all ages, hats, gloves, diapers, wipes, makeup, and clothing. Since Purim was coming, in order to increase joy in the family, toys for the children were also included. There was a wide assortment of blankets, travel pillows, snow shovels, and other useful items. The snow shovels were particularly appreciated right now.

Robbie Neuman passionately urged everyone to partner with Chickens for Shabbos. “You’re investing in thousands of children.” Chickens for Shabbos does so much chesed. They also say Kaddish for Jews who don’t have anyone to say it for them, and they learn mishnayos for them. He emphasized that supporting and helping our m’lamdim and moros is fundamental to Yiddishkeit. They cannot be replaced. They are needed for the construction of klal Yisrael.

Participants shared their thoughts about this recent distribution

“We are so grateful for all the fabulous and useful makeup and household items. Thank you so much for all the time, energy, and effort you and all the volunteers put into making this event happen! All the volunteers were so sweet, and we truly appreciate your caring. Wishing you all a gebentched and freilichen Purim – a chag samei’ach! Tizku l’mitzvos!”

“I really want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for including us in your distribution...The items received were extremely needed.”

“Thank you for opening the recent distribution to Sister to Sister members. I am a single mom of two and have lost some of my income as a result of COVID. I was able to visit, and I received health and beauty items, slipper socks for all family members, and several nice clothing items for my teenagers. I had one of the last appointment times and was told to take freely, which I very much appreciated. Thank you for putting together such a helpful event. With sincere gratitude…”

“I appreciate that you were able to set up a time for us to go to the Chazaq distribution event. I was able to pick up a few items that my daughter needed and some things for myself, as well. I was nervous to go because I did not want to feel judged or needy. The experience was completely positive; I felt no judgment or uneasiness while browsing through the room. Thank you for this opportunity.”

To support Chazaq, go to Givechazaq.com. To support Chickens for Shabbos, go to ChickensforShabbos.com. Thank you, Chazaq and Chickens for Shabbos, for all that you do for klal Yisrael. It should bring Mashiach right now!

By Susie Garber