People from across the country had the opportunity to do some good on Tuesday during the annual Good Deeds Day.
More than 550,000 Israelis participated in some 8,000 volunteer projects nationwide to help those in need.
Hundreds of schools and youth groups, 500 businesses and thousands of soldiers and students participated in the project. They were joined by 376 communities, including 116 from the Arab sector.
Good Deeds Day, running for the eighth time, was initiated by Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit”), a nonprofit organization that is part of the Ted Arison Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Arison Group.
“Good Deeds Day serves as an example of what our world can look like all year round, not only on a single day,” said businesses woman and philanthropist Shari Arison, initiator of Good Deeds Day.
“If we adopt the Good Deeds Day values and its modes of action throughout the year I am certain we can create that critical mass of people to bring about the essential change in our world,” she said, adding that the day puts into practice her motto “Think Good, Speak Good, Do Good.”
As part of the project, volunteers renovated and painted welfare institutions, cleaned beaches, held fun activities for underprivileged populations, planted community gardens and organized sports events for the disabled.
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry joined in the celebration by organizing dozens of projects for populations in distress.
Welfare Minister Meir Cohen said: “I see great importance in encouraging volunteer activity, which is a key and significant element for the development of civil society.”
“It is one of the cornerstones of any democratic country,” he added.
This year, Good Deeds Day was celebrated in more than 50 countries, with tens of thousands of volunteers from different cultures and backgrounds engaging in hundreds of projects.
Joining the efforts in Jerusalem was none other than President Shimon Peres.
Dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt emblazoned with a heart logo and a “Doing Good” slogan, the president arrived on Tuesday morning at a low-income apartment block in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood to join similarly attired youngsters in putting a fresh coat of paint on a rusty metal fence.
The youth, including some with mental and physical disabilities, had been busy since early morning, painting fences along the poorest part of Bethlehem Road, where a section had been left untouched for the presidential brush strokes.
Locals mobbed Peres on arrival, and showered him with good wishes. He was accompanied by Rafi Elul, chairman and co-founder of Ruach Tova, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Elul said that Peres had set the tone for upcoming years by participating in the volunteering efforts, as all future presidents would participate in Good Deeds Days to come.
Barkat said that in Jerusalem alone more than 30,000 volunteers from all sectors of society had been working on 400 projects.
Peres said that he was pleased Barkat had selected one of the city’s veteran neighborhoods for a spruce up and that he was glad to see so many young children among the volunteers.
“People say many things about Israel, but one of the things they don’t say is that Israel has one of the best volunteering records in the world,” the president said.