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Ushering in the New Year with inspiration from our youth

Thanks to the vision of our youth, JFS looks forward to our future. We celebrate the New Year with these young leaders!

JULIAN FINLEY is a Temple Beth El member who is becoming a Bar Mitzvah this September. He  chose to support JFS with his mitzvah project. On his invitations, he requested that donations be made to the Jewish Family Service Community Pantry and Second Harvest Food Bank. His parents were volunteers for Second Harvest and have instilled in Julian the gene of giving. 

Julian has immersed himself in all facets of how our pantry is run. He also joined us for “JFS Gives Back”—a morning of service harvesting vegetables that would be distributed to several food pantries throughout the Lehigh Valley, including at JFS. Julian assisted unloading the delivery of 5,000 pounds of food, conducted inventory and organized the stock rooms. He’ll continue his service by restocking the pantry shelves to ready it for another day.

GABRIEL MORSE is a member of Congregation Keneseth Israel. His bar mitzvah is at the beginning of September, very close to the beginning of the school year. This got Gabriel thinking about other kids and what it is like to start a new year if paying for school supplies is a challenge. 

He raised $731 by selling reusable grocery bags, which he designed himself with a logo related to his project
On Thursday, Aug. 1, he met with Chelsea Karp, JFS volunteer coordinator, at the Target in Hamilton Crossings to purchase back to school supplies with those funds for the pantry. By using the 15 percent discount from the Target Cartwheel sale and purchasing all the products with the Target Red card for an additional 5 percent discount, he was able to turn that $731 dollars into $905 of purchased school supplies for 30 elementary students.

It was important to Gabriel to purchase high-end brands like Crayola and Bic for the pantry clients. He wanted the recipients to have quality products that would help them feel successful for the school year. Gabriel’s final day in the pantry involved stocking the shelves to look like a school store.

Gabriel’s mitzvah project involved volunteering once a month at the pantry to stock shelves over the course of nine months. He helped raise awareness about food insufficiency at his middle school by sharing information about the JFS Community Food Pantry and who is eligible to become a client. 

LEYNA FLEISCHAKER is another young volunteer who deserves a big thank you! She has been volunteering at JFS every Tuesday for the past four summers. Leyna assists our clients in picking out food with warmth and compassion. 

She just turned 16 and donated her birthday to JFS by asking her friends and family to contribute canned goods, food and gift cards to the community food pantry. “Leyna gives from her heart, and we are lucky to have her as a volunteer,” said JFS Food Pantry Coordinator Sharon Gayner. 

Leyna has been nominated by JFS for the Hunger Hero Award through Second Harvest in recognition of her hard work and dedication. As a member of KI, she began volunteering for her mitzvah project at the age of 12, and now she has become an integral part of the food pantry team.