June 15, 2024
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June 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

OHEL Makes a Difference With Toys

Several weeks ago, as we were all hunkered down in our homes dealing with COVID-19, Amy Kirschenbaum of Scarsdale was watching a UJA Federation of NY Zoom program about the ways in which UJA was helping thousands of people during the pandemic. One particular item caught Kirschenbaum’s attention. Presenting an in-depth briefing on UJA’s crisis work in support of people with disabilities, the program discussed OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services (OHEL), a UJA-Federation grantee. A large social service agency, OHEL provides a stable, loving and nurturing family environment for children whose parents are unable to care for them. Kirschenbaum thought it would be a good idea to organize a toy drive for these children who have been living through difficult times.

Kirschenbaum, head of the PT department at WDS, spoke with Alexandra Kahn, another WDS parent and managing director of the caring department, UJA Federation of NY, who suggested coordinating with other local institutions. Kirschenbaum, a member of Young Israel of Scarsdale, contacted Rabbi Morgenstern, who offered his assistance and encouragement. Rabbi Josh Lookstein, WDS head of school, and Rabbi Chaim Marder of the Hebrew Institute of White Plains were eagerly on board as well. After consulting with Robert Katz, chief development officer at OHEL, the toy drive began. With assistance from Susan Glick, senior development executive at UJA, volunteers and donors were contacted and the toy drive flyer was posted on the UJA website. Additional flyers were posted and emailed by all participating organizations.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all games and toys had to be new and unopened. Drop-offs were made at Kirschenbaum’s house in Scarsdale. Arrangements were made with Big-Top, a local toy store, for those who wished to purchase toys or games over the phone. Amazon purchases could also be shipped directly to the Kirschenbaum home. By the first week in June, more than 420 toys had been collected!

On Tuesday, June 9, all toys were delivered to OHEL. Kirschenbaum stated, “I have already started thinking about what we can do next.”

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