'AMITzvah’ summer program aids disadvantaged children

Program provides ‘meaningful educational opportunities for families,’ says director.

AMITzvah volunteers harvest vegetables 370 (photo credit: AMT)
AMITzvah volunteers harvest vegetables 370
(photo credit: AMT)
As children around Israel enjoy their 10- week-long summer break, the AMIT educational network is organizing volunteer activities in Jerusalem this month for families to participate in, as part of its AMITzvah program.
The program, which consists of four volunteering days during the month of July, is dedicated to helping disadvantaged children of the AMIT Frisch Beit Hayeled children’s home in Jerusalem.
“The AMITzvah program is made to provide... meaningful educational opportunities for families from Israel as well as families who are coming from abroad to help Israeli children,” Karen Americus, director of donor relations, told The Jerusalem Post last week.
“They also learn something about AMIT,” she added, “especially for the Israeli families who may be familiar with [it] because of the school that’s in their neighborhood, but this is an opportunity for them to see the rest of AMIT. [It] is 108 schools and programs all over the country, 70 percent of which are serving some of Israel’s poorest children in development towns.”
The AMITzvah events started on July 3 with a day of vegetable picking and candy packaging for the children of Beit Hayeled. AMIT partnered with the NGO Leket Israel, the national foodbank that distributes rescued food to Israelis in need.
Americus said about 70 people came together earlier in the month at the children’s home to tye-dye bags, which will be stuffed with donated toiletries on July 24.
“The kids of Beit Hayeled travel for the holidays or Shabbat and unfortunately, where they’re going they don’t have toothbrushes and toothpaste, they don’t have soap,” she said. “It’s things that we take for granted – basic hygiene – that they don’t [necessarily] have access to. So we’re preparing for them little kits so they can use on the road.”
On July 31, volunteers will paint the walls of the children’s home which “are crumbling and could use a facelift,” according to Americus.
“I’m pleased to see how happy people were to come out and help,” said Motti Asraf, director of Beit Hayeled. “It is so heartwarming to see children giving up their free time to help other children.”
“What I’ve heard from a few participants is that their summers are mostly filled with trips to amusement parks and summer day camps,” Americus said. “It’s important also, from the side of the parents, to give their kids the opportunity to help somebody else, to volunteer and to give to somebody less fortunate, and we’re glad that we are able to help them do that.”
Most of the volunteers are mothers and daughters, Americus said, but some fathers and grandparents have also participated in this month’s activities with children.
“I think a lot of the kids come because they hear that it’s a fun activity,” she said. “They walk away with a feeling that it wasn’t just fun arts and crafts activity, they also made a real difference in somebody’s life.”