The West Orange/Livingston Chesed Committee organized a bike and sports equipment drive on Sunday, June 28, held at Congregation Ohr Torah in West Orange.
Since the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns and stay-at-home orders began in March, the committee has put together various chesed events that included sponsoring Pesach and Shavuot meals, distributing 1,000 masks to community members, providing dinner for healthcare workers, developing a pro bono services network and creating a community resource guide.
Most recently, the bike giveaway was organized in response to the recent demand for bicycles and other outdoor items to help keep people active and engaged.
“Everyone wants a bike nowadays, and we’ve had a very busy day of drop offs,” said event organizer Alisha Blugrind.
Blugrind, along with Barbara Muskin, Larry Rein, Moshe Glick, Renee Glick, Esti Morreale, Judy Birnboim, Sharon Zughaft, Sharon Yedwab, Nina Sepiashvily, Bernice Yoselefsky and others, has been planning the event for about a month and a half.
“It’s really a community thing, not just one congregation, but every shul in West Orange and Livingston has participated in the bike drive,” Muskin said. She also took note of Ohr Torah’s gracious hospitality.
The event collected more than $1500 dollars, along with a large number of bikes and other types of sporting equipment. A team of bike mechanics helped fix up the bikes in between the drop-off and pick up time slots, to ensure they were in decent working order when people came to take one for personal use. This endeavor was made possible by the efforts of various community volunteers, who helped with the physical labor.
At the conclusion of the event, Deliver Together, a chesed organization started by Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School’s rising seniors Maurice Korish and Adam Hollander and written about in the April 23, 2020 issue of The Jewish Link (“Kushner Juniors ‘Deliver Together’”), collected the leftover bikes to be shipped to those in need in Africa. All unclaimed sports equipment was donated to Game Changers New York, which provides disadvantaged youth around the world with the equipment they need to become athletes.
This successful event helped provide immediate and forward thinking solutions to problems that have arisen as a result of COVID-19.
Hannah Kirsch is a graduate of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School and a summer intern at The Jewish Link.