Community Service: Yoela Koplow (2009)

The following essay on community service was written by Yoela Koplow, 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.


For my community service project, I did two things. The first project I did was called “Operation Chicken Soup”, where I cooked food that would be given to two different homeless shelters.

The “Operation Chicken Soup” was organized by the JCC. I signed up because I love to cook. Several kids came together and split up into two groups. One group cooked a main dish and the other group baked. I made stew one time and lemon squares another time. My experience cooking was fun although I thought the food was terrible. It felt good to be helping hungry people with one of my passions.

The second thing I did was a fundraiser for The Seeing Eye agency called “Pennies for Puppies”. It helps pay for puppies to be trained to become Seeing Eye dogs for blind people. It is really expensive to train dogs to work with blind people. You have to start when the dogs are puppies.

My teacher sponsor at school and I carried out the “Pennies for Puppies” fundraiser. I chose my former teacher Traci because I knew that she liked dogs. We organized a committee of students who helped by encouraging kids in each class in the Upper School to give money to help pay for training the puppies. I got permission from the Head of the Upper School to make an announcement at an assembly to explain about how Seeing Eye dogs are trained and used. Over a period of five months we collected money from all 6 classes of kids and some of the teachers. The class that collected the most money won a pizza party. That ended up being a 5th grade class. At the end of the drive, the “Pennies for Puppies” fundraiser raised $546 in total.

My favorite part of doing community service was the “Pennies for Puppies” project which involved helping people and animals. I preferred being my own boss, and in “Pennies for Puppies” I was really in charge. At the JCC the adults were in charge and many kids helped with the cooking.

I would really recommend both of these community service projects to other kids, because they are both great ways to help out. Both of these projects are open to 13 year olds, while many other agencies require kids to be older in order to participate.

Through community service I discovered that I have the ability to make a difference, even if it’s just a small one. Now that I know that I can make a difference, in the future I plan to raise money for the ASPCA to help protect animals. I will also donate some of my Bat Mitzvah money to this cause.