April 9, 2024
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Yad Leah Opens Up Slots for Community Packing Days

Since Oct. 7, Yad Leah has been busier than ever, sending clothes to Israel in record numbers. In the past, the organization would typically ship approximately 7,000 boxes of gently used apparel to its regular network of communities throughout Israel. But Jessica Katz, co-founder of Yad Leah, has seen a drastic shift in operations.

“Certainly in the last three months we have really stepped up all of our activities and everything has catapulted to a whole new level,” she said. Those communities who for years have been recipients of Yad Leah’s effort have now absorbed displaced families in need of clothing, and that need has extended to displaced families staying in hotels as well as soldiers stationed on army bases. This past year, because of the war, Yad Leah has sent around 10,000 boxes of clothing totaling about a half million basic clothing items

“In order to get us there a few things had to happen. First, a lot more clothing needed to be collected and we had to step up efforts to collect more clothes,” said Katz. But then there was the question of how to pack it all up and send it off.

Recognizing the sense of urgency in getting the clothes to Israel as quickly as possible, Yad Leah started a whole new initiative that achieves that objective while also giving people an opportunity to contribute through “Community Packing Days.”

The initiative was first started in late October where people would register for 90-minute shifts to come to Yad Leah’s very active volunteer center and warehouse and pack up clothing that would be shipped off to Israel. The initiative was so popular, and the desire to help so great, that Yad Leah added more slots for people to come during Chanukah. “It’s been amazing because people have such a tremendous desire to roll up their sleeves and help in any way they can, to touch and feel and be part of the effort.”

People of all different ages and backgrounds came from all over, near and far. “It was Klal Yisrael coming together to help … Slots filled up immediately, so we quickly realized that people wanted to be involved in chesed opportunities even while on vacation.” Yad Leah added more community packing day slots for winter break and saw those also fill up fast.

Planning ahead, Yad Leah will be opening up slots during President’s Weekend. But for those not able to come during the time slots, people can organize their own group packing events. “It’s a unique and great way to do chesed right here in our backyard,” explained Katz.

“It could be a couple or multiple family members. It’s an activity that’s great for adults and kids and it’s a wonderful educational experience,” she added. Yad Leah regularly hosts schools, bar and bat mitzvah events, family events, yahrzeits, milestone birthdays, corporate events, and singles events.

Katz marveled at how the community has come through in amazing ways. “People are constantly dropping off clothing in Bergen and Passaic counties in addition to holding several clothing drives.” Many distributors, manufacturers and retailers have also helped to meet these greater needs by donating new clothing in record quantities. “We regularly get calls from companies letting us know that they are sending over pallets of different types of brand-new, never-worn clothing.

“It’s always been a communal effort, but it has grown immensely and we have people coming from all over the tri-state area and beyond to help out and donate their clothing,” Katz added.

If individuals or those they know have clothing they would like to donate, it must be in excellent condition. “It has to be in a condition that you would give to a friend or relative or to people that if you knew they needed that clothing, then you would feel 100% comfortable giving it to them and they would feel comfortable wearing it. We are really looking for clothing that people are going to feel proud to wear because this is all about dignity.”

To volunteer at Yad Leah’s community packing days visit yadleah.org.

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