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Archive for : J-Serve

J-Serve and Repair the World Team Up to Offer Education Grants

Are you involved with a great J-Serve project that is helping to address education challenges (like literacy rates, math deficiency, and mentorship) in your community? Or do you have an awesome project idea in mind? Now’s your chance to get your idea off the ground: J-Serve (The International Day of Jewish Youth Service) and Repair the World have teamed up to offer micro-grants for creative, volunteer-focused programs supporting education and child development.

The micro-grants will range from $500-$1000 and fund J-Serve projects across the country that help to solve the problem of education inequality. (Preference will be given to programs in New York, Detroit, Baltimore and San Francisco, but all are encouraged to apply.) Sample programs might include:

  • Starting a book drive and then creating flashcards based on key vocabulary for the books that were received, packing them together as a kit for local elementary school students
  • Gathering college alumni from your local BBYO chapter to give tours of their college campus to local youth. Follow up by hosting a college prep workshop for the community!
  • Rallying your friends and community to start a peer-to-peer mentoring program.
  • Working with a local preschool to create playground graphics on the blacktop to teach letters, numbers, colors, etc. to their students.

Applications will be accepted each month on the last day of the month (i.e. Nov 30, Dec 31, Jan 31 and Feb 28), 2013. So get excited, get some friends and volunteers together, and apply! Click here to download the application. And for more information, contact campaigns[@]

J-Serve Update: Local Service, Global Impact

Last month, J-Serve: The National Day of Jewish Youth Service, brought together nearly 10,000 Jewish teens from around the world for a collective day of service. In the weeks leading up to the event, Repair the World brought you stories from both participants and planners who were getting excited for the big day.

Now, we’re excited to share the highlights from just some of the many amazing service projects that went down during J-Serve. One act of service is a reason to celebrate. But when you multiply that act of service by 10,000, you add up to something truly meaningful. Take a look at what J-Serve teens did to help their local communities while making a big global impact:

Toronto, Canada
WHAT THEY DID: 500 Jewish teens participated in 16 different service opportunities including (among other things): tree-planting in Toronto city parks, packaging books for a literacy program, preparing clothes for distribution at a local clothing bank, participating in a political letter-writing workshop, planting flowers at a Jewish residential program, assembling school supply kits for families in need with Ve’ahavta, and organizing props in a theatre warehouse.

Whippany, New Jersey
WHAT THEY DID: 275 teens from 6th through 12th grade, and from across the denominational spectrum, came together for a variety of service projects including: making nearly 1,200 sandwiches for local homeless shelters, visiting with adults who have cerebral palsy, and making terrariums with senior citizens.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
WHAT THEY DID: Nearly 250 teens from throughout the Pittsburgh region donated 625 combined volunteer hours planting trees and weeding gardens in honor of Earth Day (which this year fell on the same day as J-Serve), constructing a picket fence to line a garden, and sorting through bike wheels and other donated gears and parts at a local bicycle shop.

East Bay, California
WHAT THEY DID: Teen volunteers from across the East Bay spent the day volunteering and digging in the dirt. Some checked out the urban farm over at Repair the World grantee-partner Urban Adamah, while others worked in a garden with senior citizens at senior residence.

Kharkov, Ukraine
WHAT THEY DID: Helping to round out the “international” aspect of J-Serve, 20 teens in the Ukraine spent the morning volunteering – particularly cleaning out a local school yard of leaves, dirt, trash and other debris – and the afternoon discussing leadership and celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Mazel tov to everyone who made J-Serve 2012 a success! And remember, it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s J-Serve! Find out more about how you can get involved here.

J-Serve Interview: Lexie Sittsamer

This is the second in a series of interviews featuring a handful of the nearly 10,000 awesome teens who are involved with J-Serve – the International Day of Jewish Youth Service coming up on April 22. Below, Lexie Sittsamer, an 18-year old high school senior in Detroit, Michigan shares her story. And check out the first J-Serve interview here.

How did you first get involved with service?
I’ve always been very active in my synagogue and community. In 6th grade I began volunteering on a weekly basis with an organization called Friendship Circle, which works with kids and teens who have special needs. I did their program called Torah Circle, where kids participate in different Jewish activities and are paired one on one with a mentor. And in 10th grade I started volunteering with their [email protected] program, where volunteers work with the children in their own homes.

I’ve always been really passionate about helping others, so when I found out about J-Serve I thought it sounded really cool. It stuck out to me that, no matter what synagogue you belong to – or don’t – everyone comes together for a few hours to help strangers.

It sounds like you connect your Jewish tradition with your service?
I have always been a big believer in tikkun olam and giving back. Service was part of our curriculum in Hebrew school, and around our bar and bat mitzvah year – there were special opportunities, like working with the food pantry, to get involved throughout the year. Our Assistant Youth Director even created a program called Teen Volunteer Corps to get us doing different activities to help the community.

How are you involved with J-Serve?
I’m on the international committee for my second year. I’m also on our local committee, but on the international front I’m connected to the Midwest hub. If organizations, synagogues or other groups interested in J-Serve have a question or need help with ideas, they can come to us. We communicate with them and have regular support calls that people call into from all over.

What project is your local J-Serve group doing this year?
We are a little different in Michigan, because we run multiple J-Serve events throughout the year. Last year we held two, and this year we are planning to hold four. For our first J-Serve project on 9/11, we teamed up with a project called Acts of Kindness (or A-OK) Detroit to do interfaith volunteering. In December we teamed up with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit for a mitzvah day on Christmas. The projects included working in soup kitchens, visiting with seniors and visiting homes for people who are fighting cancer.

Then this past February we worked with three different organizations, one called Gleaners, which is a food bank, one called Greening of Detroit, which works to beautify the city, and and one called Detroit Rescue Mission, a shelter that helps disadvantaged men, women and children. The options were diverse, so each person could participate in a way that felt right for them.

What are your goals and hopes for J-Serve’s big day of service in April this year?
My goal is to help the people who participate really get something out of the experience. I want people to be inspired to do service – not because their parents are making them, but because they gain from the experience of coming together as a Jewish community to serve.

Read more about J-Serve’s mission and impact on Repair the World here. Then find out how you can get involved with J-Serve on April 22 and beyond here!