April 21, 2024
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Ma’ayanot Freshmen Bring Smiles to Pediatric ER Patients

Tzivia Major recalls how terrified she was when she was rushed to the emergency room as a child.

“I was in pain and didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

Her longtime friends, Meital Fuksbrumer and Avital Herman, had similar recollections about their medical emergencies.

These Maayanot Yeshiva High School freshmen, who are all Teaneck residents, decided they wanted to do something to help children facing a frightening medical situation.

They launched Packaging Smiles, an initiative that creates and distributes gift bags to children in the Pediatric Emergency Department of Hackensack University Medical Center. Through the venture, they hope to lift the spirits of ailing children, one smile at a time.

The project calls for assembling and distributing bags to children who are admitted to the hospital’s emergency room. Emergency Department directors have already given their blessing (and guidelines) for the project.

Among the items that will be packed into the colorful gift bags are stickers, colored pencils and/or markers, coloring books, crafts, small books and other non-edible play items.

The project was born after the teens volunteered to help on another charitable campaign called Chemo-Comfort bags, in which bags are distributed to women recently diagnosed with cancer. Tzivia’s mother, Michele Major, an educational technologist at Yeshivat Noam, is a consultant on that project and got the teens involved.

Inspired by that concept, the girls considered what they could do to cheer up children facing a similar situation. After a few meetings and phone calls, Packaging Smiles was born. The teens hope to launch the distribution this spring. “It’s like a care package to let kids know someone cares,” said Avital Herman. “It will put a smile on their faces.”

Last week, the co-chairs held their first fundraiser for the project. The event drew a diverse group of high schoolers and featured an evening of crafts and socializing.

“I feel that there aren’t enough opportunities for teens to get involved in chesed for the broader community,” said Tzivia Major.

The three co-chairs said they hope this program will not only help sick children, but will motivate other teenagers to think about ways in which they can contribute.

“Everyone has the ability to do something amazing for the world,” said Meital Fuksbrumer.

The teens have already received a positive response to their idea. They are seeking donations of new (unopened) boxes of markers, colored pencils and coloring books to insert into the bags.

Anyone interested in donating to the project should email [email protected].

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