On Tuesday evening, November 23, Hashevaynu held a pre-Chanukah party and toy drive for the adult membership of its shul at their center on 72nd Drive in Kew Gardens Hills. The program was designed to help make the chag special for children in need. Organized by Rabbi Yehuda and Rebbetzin Adina Zakutinsky, the evening combined celebration with passing on the smiles and joy to others. The program included the wonderful aroma of fresh latkes and doughnuts served amongst great music and budding friendships. The toys donated were all new and of brand name to make every child feel valued and important. Each gift will be distributed as part of Project Yedid, a division of Misaskim launched in 2004.
On hand at Hashevaynu was the Queens Misaskim van and its able-bodied volunteers who will have the privilege to bring the toys to local families. “The smiles and happiness we create when we bring the children these special gifts makes it all worth it,” said Moshe Vatch, co-founder of the Queens division of Misaskim.
This Chanukah, Project Yedid sends a reason for joy and celebration to families that have been overshadowed by grief. As the singing of Maoz Tzur resonates through our homes, a special warmth is felt in the cold winter air. Singing, good food, and celebrating with family and friends is what makes this yom tov so special. At Misaskim’s Project Yedid division, the staff works hard to shine that glow into the homes of y’somim and almanos.
Working tirelessly, the dedicated Misaskim volunteers create hundreds of gift packages that are sent to children of families that have lost a loved one. “The impact of these presents is truly heartwarming,” noted Project Yedid founder, Reb Yankie Meyer. “For many of the kids, Chanukah would be just like any other day, shadowed by their loss. But this display of true care and love adds a layer of meaning to the chag and fills them with the feeling of not being forgotten.
Around the world, Jewish families are busy with exciting preparations for the yom tov. Lavish Chanukah parties and exciting presents are what every kid is talking about. But for some children, the shadow of grief and uncertainty does not allow light to shine through.
With a budget of $182,000, Project Yedid spares no expense to create the gift packages. Each child gets an individual package with $50 spending money, ten-dollar bills that were bentched by a series of renowned and venerated rabbanim, a newly released CD, and fun and exciting games. The package is beautifully displayed and instantly delights children of all ages. Project Yedid’s gift recipients are all over the world, spanning across New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Nevada, Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa), and Belgium (Antwerp). Location is not something that prevents Project Yedid from lighting up a child’s Chanukah.
A grateful orphan sent this heartfelt message to Project Yedid: “I’d like to give a special thank you for the generous Chanukah gelt that was sent to our door on Chanukah. It was so touching to receive an individual packet for each child. The money that I got went towards a beautiful watch that I wanted, and all my siblings bought something special for themselves. The gebentched dollar bills and coins that we got were put aside for sh’mirah. Thank you so much.”
Another child told us: “It was so amazing to receive the gift package you sent! My brothers loved the games, and we saved the Chanukah gelt to buy a big present for my mother. Thank you for everything!”
By Shabsie Saphirstein