The following essay on community service was written by Jordan Hallerman, a middle schooler, enrolled in City Congregation’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah program. Students spend a year and a half researching their heritage, values and beliefs, and write on a Jewish subject of their choice, their major project; they also perform 13 hours of community service, and write about it. An example of this component can be seen below. The process improves both the student’s writing and critical thinking skills, as well as their self confidence and overall maturity.
When I first heard that I had to participate in community service for my Bar Mitzvah, I was worried. I had never done community service before and I didn’t know what to expect. What I soon learned was that it was very hard for children to find places that offer community service. Slowly, I began to notice places and events where I could help out and get credit for community service. In this paper, I will talk about each of the events and describe my experiences.
The first community service events that I participated in were at my old elementary school PS 116 and my middle school PS 126.
I started by stuffing backpacks to help people who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. My family donated backpacks and bought supplies. You stuffed your backpack by going from table to table and taking one of each item such as socks, stuffed animals and underwear. The items you put in depended on whether the bag was for a boy or a girl. In the end we had a huge pile of bags, ready to be given to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This photo is from the event…
The next school activity that I took part in was my elementary school’s Halloween party. I chose to do it because it would give me the opportunity to have some fun while participating in community service. For the event, I ran a basketball carnival game and handed out candy to kids who came dressed in costumes and helped raise money for the school.
The last school fundraiser that I participated in was my middle school’s spring carnival. Similar to the Halloween party that I mentioned, this event allowed me to raise money for my school’s athletics program. I helped out by setting up early, organizing school t-shirts, and going to the local deli and getting bags of ice for the cold beverages.
After participating in some school events, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. Then, I heard that the City Congregation was going to participate in the Martin Luther King Target Day of Service over at PS/MS 57 in Harlem. The event was a day dedicated to community service inspired by the accomplishments made by Martin Luther King Jr. There, we assembled care packages for people in nursing homes, made toys for shelter animals that did not have homes, and decorated bags for food pantries. What made this event so great was that they were able to make each of the tasks fun, so you really felt like you were making an impact by doing the activities and learning about Martin Luther King Jr., AT THE SAME TIME!
Another community service activity that I participated in was the AVON walk for Breast Cancer. I chose to participate in this event because a lot of people that are very close to my family have had breast cancer or are battling it. Because of this, I felt that if I walked and donated money, I would help to fund research to find a cure. The walk itself was good, but VERY crowded, so instead of walking, my dad and I ended up shuffling behind other people most of the time, until we were able to find a parallel road that allowed us to walk along side everyone else, just at our own pace. The next time I do this walk, or one like it, I would try to find one where I could walk in a much bigger area, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about other people slowing down or stopping. Otherwise, this event went really well and I am glad that I was able to donate money to fund research for cause that means a lot to my family.
The last event I will talk about was organized by my cousin Scott who runs a tour business called Scott’s Pizza Tours. On the tours, he takes his customers all around New York to different pizzerias and in between the stops he teaches them about pizza and its history. When he heard that I was looking for community service, he told me about an event that he organizes and runs called Slice out Hunger. The event started in 2010 on the 1-year anniversary of the company. In order to celebrate this big milestone, some pizzeria owners sent Scott pizza pies. Since Scott knew that he couldn’t eat the pizza all by himself, he invited social media followers and friends in New York to share the pizza at $1 per slice. By the end, he had raised a few hundred dollars, which he donated to a charity to help feed the homeless. Now, Scott is in his 5th year of the event and it has grown dramatically, with more and more pizzerias contributing to the event. This year, they were able to collect $12,900 for City Harvest. That’s a lot of money that is ALL going to a great cause! Now, thanks to Scott, pizza restaurants in Las Vegas want to start their own Slice out Hunger events and he is hoping that other cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston will follow.
The Slice out Hunger event itself was amazing and I would absolutely do this again, community service or not. Now, you may ask, what did I do, since this is all about community service in the first place, right? Well, I was in charge of garbage control. It was my job to run around the event picking up empty pizza boxes and recycling them into piles. And boy was it a workout! By the end of the night, I could barely hold my head up. This was my absolute favorite of all of the community service events that I participated in, and made me feel the most that my hard work was going to a great cause. I hope to do it again next year.
In conclusion, I had a surprisingly good time participating in community service as a part of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. In the end, I am happy that I did these events because they allowed me to perform different acts all to help causes that I feel strongly about and care for, with people I care about. I truly believe that after doing Community Service, that I have become a better person, whether it is helping one of my brothers to finish their homework, or donating money to a charity that I share similar beliefs with like The Lily Sarah Grace Fund, which I will now tell you about.
After thinking about different organizations and charities with my parents and by myself, I have chosen to donate a portion of the gift money I receive to the Lily Sarah Grace Fund. This fund was started by a creative director that my mom worked with named Matthew Badger. He started the fund to honor his 3 daughters, who passed away in a Christmas day fire 2 years ago. The charity donates money to lower income schools that want to do project based learning in their classrooms. Mr. Badger chose this as the focal point of the organization because his daughters suffered from learning disabilities, and they seemed to strive in environments where learning was taught hand in hand with art and creative projects. In their first year alone, they have supported over 1,000 projects in elementary schools all over the United States. After participating in various events, I am sure that I will be volunteering to do community service again in the future.