September 1, 2023

“A small group of thoughtful people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

This past weekend, I met our Cherry Hill Police Department at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Together, we helped 14 children, and their parents get ready for the new school year.

With the last weekend of the summer upon us, so many people are shopping and getting their children ready for school. It is often a time of excitement and enthusiasm, but for those who are financially insecure, this time of year comes with anxiety and even shame. They don’t have the money to buy their children new sneakers or shoes. Their clothes may be showing signs of wear and tear from the summer. These children don’t often have an opportunity to experience the excitement of back-to-school shopping. Yet, they still have hopes and dreams for the future and the potential to do amazing things.

What a wonderful sight it was to see our community in action. The Cherry Hill Police Department, the Cherry Hill Police Benevolent Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and Dick’s Sporting Goods teamed up together to donate $275 per child and then spent the morning shopping, sharing stories, and making true connections with them.

Isn’t that what life is all about – making connections, making a difference, and inspiring others to do the same? Each child captured my heart. What an amazing experience for those who protect and serve to become personally connected to community members in need.

On Saturday, I met Rebecca* – a single mother who is raising her daughter, Arielle*, in Cherry Hill. She is not new to JFCS, having come to us several months ago in crisis. Her home was infested with bed bugs. She was struggling to pay rent and she needed to find a stable place to live and better educational opportunities for her daughter. She didn’t have enough food to get through the week and she desperately needed our help.

Immediately, our Family Assistance team went to work! Meri Seligman quickly signed Rebecca up for regular food deliveries and started looking for alternative housing. One month later, we helped secure a low-income apartment and continued to provide support. We found a donor to provide Arielle with a bedroom set that she badly needed and helped them move into their apartment. This month, Arielle received a backpack and school supplies and was invited to “Shop with a Cop” at the end of August.

With tears in her eyes, Rebecca hugged me and said, “JFCS changed my life! My daughter has a wonderful school district. We met the police officer who helps the crossing guard today! He came with his wife and new baby! We have eggs, produce and milk on the table. And today, my daughter was able to get a new outfit and new shoes for the school year. We could never afford this kind of shopping trip on our own.”

As a young girl, I dreamed of fighting for justice. I believed that my purpose in life was to make this world better. Last Saturday reminded me that seemingly small acts of kindness can make a huge difference in another person’s life. At JFCS, we are fortunate to do this every single day. But we don’t do it alone, you are there with us and we thank you for your unwavering support.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat and a joyful end to the summer season!