Chalutzim 2013 has been participating in a teen philanthropy project sponsored by the Jewish Teen Funders Network. This program is designed to help the campers learn how to be philanthropists by donating real money to the charity of our choice! Throughout this ten day program, Chalutzim learned a lot about Jewish values, different charities’ values, and many kids, including myself, learned a lot about the values that are important to him/her. We even created a mission statement:
As Chalutzim 2013, our mission is to help communities grow stronger through reaching out and giving back to those who lack access to equal opportunity.
We were given the opportunity to visit and interview The Boys and Girls Club of America-Philadelphia, MS. As a day trip out of camp, Chalutzim went from Utica, MS all the way to Philadelphia, MS to visit the Boys and Girls Club. This club, along with other branches all across the nation, is designed to help young children grow up in a safe environment. During the school year, the kids, mostly around the age of 12, attend tutoring, but during the summer the children have the opportunity to stay at the club from 7:30 AM to 5 PM every day, and get two meals. (We made and distributed lunches as part of our project, too.) This trip truly helped me decide that this club was the right choice to donate money. All of the kids from Jacobs Camp had a wonderful time reading the kids books, playing pool, Wii, Xbox, and doing arts and crafts with the Boys and Girls Club kids.
Another charity investigated was Dream Street Mississippi, which is a week-long camp for children with disabilities. Most campers are primarily from the great states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas. Dream Street’s primary mission is to make the campers feel as though they are just kids who are able to have as much fun as we do every summer here at Jacobs. Dream Street uses the Jacobs Camp facilities and invites members of NFTY-Southern to be counselors and work primarily one on one with his/her camper. Out of the 34 Chalutzimers, five were counselors this year at Dream Street, and all fought long and hard to help Dream Street receive the grant from the Jewish Teen Funders Network. Dream Street hopes to use this grant to work towards their goal of a 1 million dollar endowment fund, which would be used to fund the program indefinitely. Miracle Buckley, a former camper and present staff member, came to speak to us about her life with a physical disability. By talking to Miracle, we were able to see how much of an impact Dream Street made on her life and so many others.
With our mission in mind, we set out to choose the best charity that represented us and narrowed down the big list of charities. For two straight hours, we debated and debated about what the money would be used for at each charity, which organization needed it more, and many more little details about each non-profit organization. Teenagers are stubborn (very, very stubborn) and this year was no exception. As the debates continued, arguments got heated, but all the kids eventually settled on a compromise!
The given $1000 dollars would be given to the Boys and Girls Club in Philadelphia, MS, but Dream Street Mississippi was definitely not thrown under the bus. Chalutzim agreed to fundraise an additional $1000 dollars by writing letters to family, friends, and other congregation members. Throughout the duration of this program, I learned a lot about the world of non-profit, including the fact that most of the workers are volunteers. A lot of the people I talked with after have decided that they want to help, whether it be at Boys and Girls Club, Dream Street or at different charities at home. I hope that the other campers in my unit learned the same amount or more than I did, and will continue to grow as volunteers and donors for the very worthy non-profit organizations around the world.
P.S. If you would like to support our project, you can donate by going here!
Caroline Danziger is from Memphis, TN and the daughter of David and Shara Danziger (they met at HSJ). She is an entering the 9th grade at White Station High School.