There is a great scene in “Fiddler On The Roof” where a donor gives a beggar one kopek.
“Why only one kopek?” asks the beggar.
“I had a bad week,” replies the donor.
“If you had a bad week,” responds the beggar, “why should I have to suffer?”
Unfortunately, that is the situation for many charities in Israel. They are having a very difficult time, and this may not be the best time to allow them to suffer.
Some organizations are just too special to be allowed to flounder. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Barbara Silverman, the founder and spirit behind “A Package from Home.” Mrs. Silverman sends packages to Israeli soldiers serving in the fighting units guarding Israel.
The conditions under which our soldiers operate are usually not ideal because of the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter. Standing guard while isolated from their families and loved ones is often very difficult. A warm and cuddly “Package from Home” can lift their spirits and generate a smile.
Barbara tells a story related to her by a group commander. His fairly new recruits were the soldiers closest to a terrorist bus attack where several children were maimed and murdered. His boys were sent to protect the survivors and help clean up the mess. The commander related how dejected the boys were as they returned to the base. After a very quiet review of the incident (every action is reviewed immediately after it is completed), the boys walked very slowly, heads down, and with great sadness in their eyes.
They did not rush off to shower and eat, as they usually did, but rather came into their bunk where all of the beds were lined up in a neat row, and sat on their beds in silence. They did not even bother to turn on the lights. Their commander stood by the door watching, not knowing what to say.
Suddenly, he noticed that there was a wrapped package on each bed. He remembered that he had recently approved a request by Barbara Silverman to send each soldier in the unit a package, but the boys did not seem to pay attention to what was on their beds. One boy eventually did notice and opened his package, smiled and said, “Guys, listen to this. `My name is Dvora and I go to a Jewish day school in Manhattan, N.Y. My friends tell me that I am pretty and I am 16 years old. Do you have a girlfriend?’”
That broke the sad mood, and the soldiers suddenly relaxed, took a deep breath, and started opening the packages, eating the candy, and reading the letters.
The officer mentioned the incident at a commander’s meeting, and many officers started calling Barbara to ask for packages for their troops.
Today, unfortunately, the donations to “A Package from Home” have dried up. People who used to donate $500 every few months are sending $25 checks. Barbara, at age 78, was told not to bother to come to the USA on a fund-raising mission because no one is giving. The rockets are still hitting Sderot and our young boys are still out there guarding the country, but very few packages are being sent out.
Barbara began “A Package from Home” in her living room with a mailing of 25 packages. The organization has expanded, and more than 135,000 packages have been sent to Israeli soldiers over the past eight years. Barbara feels that her mission is to strengthen the spirit and resolve of each Israeli combat soldier, and to show them our appreciation for the sacrifices they are making in securing our safety and the survival of the Jewish People.
The care packages are not only a warm reminder of our love and esteem for our young men and women, but they also contain items that they truly can use.
There are many ways that people have donated to “A Package from Home.” Children in schools and shul youth groups have written letters in Hebrew, English, Russian or Amharic and collected funds to adopt a fighting unit. A family might come to Israel to celebrate a Bar/Bat Mitzvah and the boy or girl would decide that part of the gift funds should go to “A Package from Home.” In addition to monetary donations, the family might bring small items in large suitcases.
The following items are especially appreciated: toothpaste, toothbrushes, two-piece long underwear sets in size medium and large, cotton boxer shorts in medium and large, deodorant (non- aerosol), soap, shampoo, individual bags of M&M’s and Mike & Ike candy. Also appreciated are men’s round neck, short sleeve, navy, black, brown, white and khaki T-shirts in size medium and large, sun screen, medicated foot powder, lip balm, and J&J Compeed – medicated especially for blisters.
A tourist family might even decide to come help “do a packing.” After the packing, the family members usually have the opportunity to meet several of the soldiers who come to pick up the packages for their unit.
If you would like more information about “A Package From Home” please check their beautiful website at http://www.apackagefromhome.org/.
American checks (donations over $ 250 will receive a tax-deductible receipt) can be mailed to: Naomi Eisenberger, The Good People Fund, 384 Wyoming Ave, Milburn, NJ 07041.
Checks should be made payable to “The Good People Fund” with a notation that it is slated for “A Package from Home Project” (at the bottom of the check please write “A Package From Home”).
Please help give fighting units a smile!! ?
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