April 17, 2020

Students Making A Difference In Our Local Community

by Liz Paige, Director of Ethics and Cultures

If ever there was a time in our living memory when it was apparent to all that the world is in need of repair, this is it. COVID-19 has brought into even more stark relief the inequities of racism and poverty, as communities of color are disproportionately impacted and more and more families are seeking assistance for basic needs due to unemployment.

Though the picture seems bleak, our value of Tikkun Olam/repairing the world reminds us that each of us has a role to play to make the world a better place. Scientists are reporting the positive impact staying at home has had on slowing the spread of the virus as well as on improving air quality around the world and therefore life expectancy for tens of thousands. Our individual actions do have a positive collective impact.

As part of our recent Purim celebrations, our 2nd graders led our community in our annual “Two cans for two hands” food drive to support the pantry at Jewish Family Service (JFS). Supported by the Utah Food Bank and private donors, Jewish Family Service’s pantry provides non-perishable foods to people of all ages and backgrounds. That’s why our food drive is so important to them… especially now.

Renee, a McGillis third grade student, made our annual food drive her personal passion. Since learning about food insecurity in Utah in second grade and watching people put food in the collection bins, Renee knew she needed to make a difference. 

“It is fun to bring in cans every day. My friends help me carry them down. I just love it. It makes you feel really good when you help,” she explained. Renee earns money for the food drive from her parents by doing projects around her home: snow removal, dishes, and straightening up the house. She also ran a cookie stand with a classmate. Inspired by Renee’s initiative, her parents matched her can donations. “It makes us very proud to see her take that initiative to want to help people,” her father, Dennis, shared. Together the family donated 300 cans to this year’s drive.

In the second week of our Continuous Learning Plan, the food was delivered by the heroic team of Ms. Bridget, Mr. Bob, and Mr. Jake, who wanted to ensure that the food got to people who needed it during the COVID-19 pandemic. JFS has seen a huge increase in people needing assistance and our donations arrived at a perfect time.

“We at Jewish Family Service are so very grateful for the food delivered to us for our food pantry. During this time, when so many families are struggling with financial stress and food insecurity we are able to help. We can help because of your help!”, said JFS Executive Director Ellen Silver.

“I just hope that everyone is doing well with food,” said Renee. Thank you to everyone who donated to this year’s drive and for your efforts to repair our world.

If you are seeking ways to support those in need during the global pandemic, please consider donating to Jewish Family Service or Utah Food Bank.


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