“When Rav Huna would eat a meal, he would open his door and say, ‘Whoever is in need, let that person come and eat.’” Ta’anit 20b
When we pack for camp, we fit a lot of things into our suitcases, duffels, and backpacks. We make sure we have shoes with backs, white clothes for Shabbat, a swimsuit, towels, sunscreen, and a raincoat. We pack up our paper, pens, and stamps to write letters home. We throw in a favorite stuffed animal and a picture of our family. Maybe we are even surprised when Mom or Dad or Grandma or Grandpa or the other people who love us pack a secret note of encouragement alongside our toothbrush. When it’s time to leave for Camp Kalsman, we manage to fill our bags with all the things we need.
Why would you bring food to camp? Because although most of us are blessed with the food, shelter, and love we need to be strong and healthy, there are nearly 50 million Americans who are hungry every day. That means that one in every six people across the United States doesn’t have enough food to be healthy and active. While we are sending kids up a 50-foot climbing tower, cooking up kale chips in the kitchen, and going canoeing on Butterfly Lake, 17 million kids are wondering if there is enough food for dinner.
But here at Camp Kalsman, we think we can help. This summer we want to do a mitzvah for our community by packing up two tons (4000 pounds!) of fresh, canned, and dried food to donate to some great local organizations that serve the hungry.
Rabbi Assi said, “Tzedakah is equally important as all the other mitzvot put together,” (Baba Batra 9a). We are ready to do our part!
How can we make it happen?
Last year, volunteers were able to harvest over 700 lbs of food from the garden at Camp Kalsman. Our garden is even bigger this year, nearly 10,000 square feet where we’ve already started to plant peppers, beans, and corn. Just like the Jews harvesting their fields in the chapters of Leviticus, we will leave the corners (and a lot of the centers!) of our fields to be gleaned for those in need. When our last harvest of the year is over, our hope is to have donated one ton of fresh food grown by our very own campers and staff.
Where will the other ton come from? That’s where you come in. When you pack for camp this summer, pack a few things for someone else. Peanut butter, canned tuna/canned meats, fruit juice, jelly, Mac and Cheese, pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, crackers, rice, and baby formula are all items that are highly requested at our local food banks. We’ve done the math and know that if every camp family brings four pounds of food, we will meet our goal by the end of the summer. We’ll be collecting food on all of our opening and closing days of camp!
Where will all the food go? Camp Kalsman will donate food to three local organizations who provide food to children, Jewish families, and other local Northwest families of every denomination who struggle with hunger. In Washington alone, over 367,000 families struggle with hunger each year. These local organizations are making a big difference for the hungry we might encounter every day. All of our fresh produce this year will go to the Everett Food Bank, our fantastic partner from Summer 2012. We can’t wait to share the fruits (vegetables) of our labor with them! Our dry, non-perishable food will be split between the Jewish Family Services Food Bank in Seattle, WA and Hopelink’s “End Summer Hunger” program. Over 18,000 people will benefit from these three programs over the summer. We are glad we can play a small part in helping those in need.
So, as you’re grabbing your pillow and your suitcase to head up Jordan Road, remember to throw in a few cans of food to donate to our food drive! Our camp community has the power to do something big this summer and we can’t wait to get started.
1 Ton from Our Garden + 1 Ton from Your Pantry = 2 Tons Together to End Hunger