One of the many challenges that impoverished people face is filling the role of taker rather than giver. By feeling that they have little to offer others, it is easy to have feelings of complacency and even bitterness.
Ilanit Hafuta, Meir Panim’s branch manager in the struggling Israeli city of Or Akiva, has made it her mission to educate local youth from disadvantaged families that everyone not only has something to give but must also give what they can. Hafuta recently arranged for 40 children to spread Purim holiday cheer to those less fortunate than themselves.
“Meir Panim takes a holistic approach toward helping Israel’s needy,” explained Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim. “Providing food for the hungry is a pressing urgency. However, educating young people on how to behave and give to others is an important training which will serve them and the future of Israel well.”
In order to instill the value and joy of giving to others, Hafuta arranged for the youth to visit the oncology unit at Rambam Hospital; a local hospice center; and lonely, home-bound, and elderly individuals. 15 volunteers were on hand to assist, half of whom were from the Or Akiva police force.
“Because of the very troubled homes that these youth come from, they generally have harsh views of the police,” continued Sternbuch. “Hafuta has encouraged and developed a warm relationship with the police through various activities in order to educate the children that police are there to help and protect them.”
Having the police escort the children during their volunteering activities had a twofold effect: it ensured that the children were protected while visiting private homes and it continued to foster a warm relationship with the police.
The youth distributed a few hundred Meir Panim-sponsored food baskets as part of the Purim traditions.
“The day was filled with so much joy from the children toward the sick and lonely,” noted Sternbuch. “Faces lit up as the children sang and danced for those they visited and gave out their gifts. It was so special to have them experience the joy of giving to others.”