Here’s a post from Mr Mitzvah Day himself, Nick Grant
SAMS undertook it first Mitzvah Day event back in November 2009, and has been supporting the initiative since then.
This year, we undertook 9 events:
- Collecting household items for Syrian refugees recently relocated into St Albans
- Local Cemetery tidy up (interfaith event, together with St Albans Mayor)
- Recruiting stem cell donors (from 16 – 30yrs old) for blood cancer treatment (Sue Harris Trust; Anthony Nolan Trust).
- Cooking the evening meal for Centre 33’s local homeless (B’nei Mitzvah young adults activity)
- Baking cakes & biscuits for children at the local women’s refuge (Cheder children activity)
- Generating artwork for a synagogue classroom (SAMS Tots & Ktanim activity)
- Providing phone-athon volunteers for World Jewish Relief fundraising
- Planting Trees in Heartwood Forest
- Knitting woolly hats and scarves for Centre 33’s homeless
Some of these events were self-initiated, some assigned by St Albans Council, and the Stem-Cell Registration opportunity came from Mitzvah Day HQ.
For me, August, September and October bring on the first round of stress, looking for initiatives that might be suitable for our community, and that would coherently work together.
We try to find a bunch of activities that all age-groups and all competencies can participate in. What was difficult this year was St Albans Council agreeing their tasks that they could handover to us, and that would benefit the local area.
Come the start of November, it’s all about drawing the attention of the SAMS community to all the Mitzvah Day activities. Lots of emails, and lots of face-to face discussions, seem to be required. And then to find a team-leader for each of the activities.
Gaining involvement has got easier over the years; SAMS is learning from one year to the next on what to expect and what is expected from them!
Except for the Stem-Cell Registration, our events were very well supported, with over 25% of the synagogue membership getting involved, so no complaints about participation overall.
As for the Stem-Cell Registration initiative, this was problematic, as we only got a few 16- 30 yr. olds to turn up. The Stem-Cell Registration Desk was manned by Anthony Nolan from 09:30 – 1:30pm.
Understandably, many of the 18-22 yr. olds were away at university. I guess some 16-18yr olds didn’t want to get up or come out, and for some 22 -30 yr. olds their social life took precedence. We have many 16 -30 yr. olds, and it proved an interesting challenge to try to get their interest. Has anyone got a good idea how to spark their interest for next Mitzvah Day?
From a publicity viewpoint we did well (thank you, Russell); this year we got a described photo included in both the St Albans Review and the Jewish Chronicle (left).