Chesed is a huge part of the Central ethos. Year after year, students make it a habit to get involved in their communities, lend a hand, and become a force for good. The excitement Central students feel for service work is heartfelt and genuine.
The 2022-23 school year brings a new model for Central-sponsored chesed opportunities. In prior years, entire grade classes were sent out to choose between three to four locations. This year, the school is offering two chesed opportunities a month, and students sign up for the outings on their own initiative. "The goal is for students to explore meaningful opportunities to serve their community," said Mrs. Yael Axelrod, one of Central's Directors of Programming. "It's also about learning about how people have taken their ideas and developed them into organizations and initiatives that make a difference in their communities. A lot of these organizations are volunteer-based, as well." For the month of November, freshmen and sophomores had the opportunity to volunteer with an organization that was started in just this way: Bobbie's Place, a Brooklyn-based organization that provides families in need with a full-fledged shopping experience -- with brand-new clothing that comes at no cost.
The organization began in the founder's basement and expanded to multiple storefronts, a warehouse with a processing facility, and a fundraising system that purchases new clothing directly from manufacturers. Central students visited Bobbie's Place on November 21 to tag and unbox clothing, hang merchandise, and perform other tasks. "Going to Bobbie's Place to help hang and sort clothes was such an uplifting experience," said sophomore Reema Gampel. "I love how it's designed in such a way that the kids who go there are able to pick out clothes, just like in a store." Freshman Atara Feldman was inspired by the organization's origin story. "I was greatly inspired to hear the story of the founding and inspiration behind the creation of Bobbie's Place," she said. "It was a fantastic chesed opportunity." Freshman Hannah Austin agreed: "Walking into Bobbie's Place, I was overcome with a sense of purpose. I immediately knew that I wanted to get to work and help people. Bobbie's Place is doing something amazing.” While freshmen and sophomores worked at Bobbie's Place, juniors and seniors were given an opportunity to volunteer with the Hebrew Free Burial Association, which performs free Jewish burials for any Jew who dies without the funds for funeral expenses.
Central students braved the chilly temperatures to participate in a cemetery cleanup at the Mount Richmond Cemetery in Staten Island. "It was a very unique experience, being able to help clean up around the cemetery," said junior Adina Lax. "It felt good knowing I was doing the right thing."