Supplying support

For reservists unprepared for a long stay on the front lines, community support is banding together to deliver provisions.

The reservists of the 360th Battalion pose for a ‘thank-you’ photo for supplies donated by a Facebook fund-raising campaign. (photo credit: Courtesy)
The reservists of the 360th Battalion pose for a ‘thank-you’ photo for supplies donated by a Facebook fund-raising campaign.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When Jerusalem Post writer Josh Hasten received a phone call from his brother-in-law that his battalion was short on supplies, he posted on Facebook to see if any of his friends would help. The results, he said, were “unbelievable,” totaling NIS 20,000 of pledges in less than 36 hours.
“There are all these campaigns going, and this turned out,” he says. “I thought it would be a small [thing] to help my brother-in-law with the basics in terms of what he needs. And at the end of the day, people from here, and friends of Israel from all over the world, just wanted to be a part of this.”
As a result, one of his friends, Shira Frimer, began an official online campaign through Indiegogo called “Supplies for IDF” to raise money for the soldiers.
Their current goal, Hasten says, is to earn $10,000 from the page.
After receiving the initial call, Hasten recounts, he spoke to his brother-in-law’s platoon commander, Sgt.-Maj. Leor Raviv, to ask what kind of supplies they needed, and how many.
Raviv says the platoon had been working long days in the sun and didn’t have many basic materials.
“It’s much longer than we’re used to [staying] because we’re reserves; we’re not active soldiers,” he explains.
“We don’t have 20 pairs of socks and 20 pairs of T-shirts, and this guy doesn’t have a towel, and this guy doesn’t have shampoo, so I told him, ‘Look, we need basic stuff, so if you could collect some stuff and bring it, that would be amazing.’” Hasten, though, wanted to help not only the soldiers, but also the town of Sderot. He said it was especially important for him to buy the supplies to support the local economy.
“All the shopkeepers gave us discounts because they knew we were doing this for the army,” he says. “Some of the people who saw what was going on started collecting.
One lady said we made her day and [that she] had goose bumps from seeing the nation support the soldiers.”
After buying clothing, underwear, towels and socks, there was still a good deal of money left over, Hasten says.
“We started buying whatever other items they needed,” including things like coffee and toiletries, he says.
“At the end of the day, the driver I was with had to call another soldier from the base to drive... to Sderot to help bring stuff over, because he couldn’t fit anything else in his car.”
And still there was money left over. Hasten says the campaigners will use it to buy the soldiers extra food on Shabbat.
“We have very long shifts here, 24- or 36-hour shifts, all in the sun,” says Raviv. “I spoke to him [Hasten] and I asked him, ‘Look, you have some more money, so maybe we can buy some food, some drinks – stuff other than a can of tuna – for the guys in the field,’ so that’s what we’re doing.”
Raviv says he and the entire battalion think of Hasten “as an angel.”
“He was like, really, our Santa Claus,” says the platoon commander. “It’s amazing. It’s the thing that keeps us going here.”
Hasten, in turn, says he’s doing it because both he and the supporters of his campaign admire the soldiers and the people living in areas bombarded by rocket fire.
“They’re the real heroes,” he says. “They’re the ones who are sacrificing their lives and their families and going down there. Also, the people themselves [are heroes] – the people who have withstood 14 years of rocket fire and who still call places like Sderot and Ashkelon their homes.”
If the campaign continues to succeed, he adds, he hopes to expand it to other platoons across the country in similar situations.
“As long as they’re down there, the feeling is that this is going to be a process that can take a long time...
so we will try to do what we can,” he says. “People are willing; other people volunteer to drive down there and hand the stuff to the soldiers. People are volunteering left and right to get involved, and actually donating, too. Everyone wants to be a part of it, and the IDF is the uniting factor for Jews here in Israel and Jews around the world and the friends of Israel.”
He adds, “The hearts and minds of the people in Israel are with our troops. We really wish them the best.”