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Jack and Jared keep the food pantry going through quarantine

Jared Sussman and Jack Valuntas have a lot in common. They’re both in high school, they both love volunteering at Jewish Family Service—and they’re cousins.

Jared, an 11th grader, and Jack, a 9th grader, became a bit bored during their quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They found a way to have fun and do a mitzvah at the same time by spending some time helping out at JFS. Since they are family and already part of the same “bubble,” they were able to do so together.

“We fell in love with it,” said Jared. “We do everything. We restock, fill the boxes, hand out the boxes. We help all around the food pantry.”

With the ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic, Community Food Pantry clients receive their food and other items in a box rather than their usual method of choosing in-person directly from the shelves. It takes a lot of manpower to keep the operation running smoothly, which is why it’s great that the cousins can work together, doubling their efforts.

Even with school in session, the teens are committed to helping out, fitting in a day at the pantry at least every two weeks.

“It puts life in perspective,” said Jared, reflecting on how volunteering has made him view his own problems differently. 

Jack agreed that the motivation to keep coming back is rooted in the impact that their work makes. 

“It’s seeing people needing help and knowing you’re doing something good in the world,” he said.

They also enjoy the overall welcoming environment of the JFS office from both the staff and clients. 

“It doesn’t feel like a job; it just feels like something fun to do,” added Jared.

He and Jack both encourage anyone to try out volunteering at the pantry, where they say you’ll learn life lessons and new skills while helping others.

To learn more about volunteering, contact Chelsea Karp at or 610-821-8722.