Friday, January 21, 2022

On December 23, Elanit Paley and her mother, Michal, volunteered their time at New Rochelle’s Hope Community Services Kosher Food Pantry. As a bat mitzvah chesed project, Elanit, a sixth grader at Westchester Torah Academy (WTA), is selling kosher/parve candy platters labeled as Elanit’s Sweets, with all proceeds benefiting the Hope Kosher Food Pantry.

Elanit explained, “I chose preparing candy platters because I thought that it would be fun to make and that people would like to buy them for Shabbat.” Elanit’s goal is to raise $1,000 for the pantry. “The money I raise is to support the kosher chicken and meat segment of the pantry.”

She added, “These funds are to support people who don’t have enough money to spend on food. Not everybody gets to come back each day to their house or wherever they live and have a fresh meal to eat, so I thought it would be nice to make sure people have something to eat.”

Reflecting on her visit to the pantry, Elanit said, “I thought it was a great experience because I got to see what they give away. In addition, I got a sense of what they do and how they do it.”

She continued, “The person that runs the pantry loved that I came for a day and I was able to see how they would use the money.”

Michal expressed, “I’m really so proud of her. And I’m really thrilled because she’s learning things that we didn’t even expect to be learning, such as how to run a business, how to use spreadsheets and keep track of money. Until we went to visit the pantry this week, it didn’t have as much meaning as I think it does now, seeing huge storage areas, a huge kitchen, boxes and boxes of food and how it works. All of those bags are for families who need it. I think Elanit really understands that her money can go a long way: doing something really special for people who live in our neighborhood.”

Michal went to Hope Community Services Kosher Food Pantry a month ago when they first had this idea as a bat mitzvah project, to see what they do and what Elanit’s project could support. Additionally, Michal has been in touch with faculty at WTA and hopes the school can also work on chesed projects supporting the food pantry.

“Hope’s packing hours are during school hours, which makes it a little tricky pulling kids out of school.” Michal described. “I am in touch with the woman who runs the program, to see if students could come after school one day to do some of the packing or other opportunities such as working at the soup kitchen. I think that it would be a great experience for the kids to come in to see and help serve food.”

One unique aspect of the Hope Community Services’ kosher program is the packing of kosher food for Westchester residents. “They have people who volunteer to pack, distribute and drive to drop off packages at the recipients’ homes,” Michal explained, adding that the food pantry delivers food packages every two weeks to people who are on their list. “I think they’re being delivered because the people are either looking for employment or currently working and cannot take time off from their jobs to come pick up their food.”

Elanit and Michal expressed gratitude that the community has been very supportive of her project. To learn more or support Elanit’s project, please email [email protected].

By Judy Berger

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