HAMILTON — Kehila Jewish Community Day School collected 36 blankets and sleeping bags for Hamilton’s homeless.
The staff and students of Kehila Jewish Community Day School met with McMaster Student Outreach Collective volunteers.
Kehila’s students, from junior kindergarten to Grade 5, began collecting the sleeping bags and blankets in late September 2007, from members of Hamilton’s Jewish community.
Representatives from the McMaster Student Outreach Collective (MacSOC) picked up the donations on Dec. 20.
It’s a mitzvah project that fits beautifully with our tikkun olam mission, to save the world one person at a time, says Leia Ger-Rogers, Kehila Day School’s principal.
Hamilton’s Homeless Project, to which the items have been donated, is run by McMaster Student Outreach Collective (MacSOC), a group of volunteers that includes McMaster University staff, faculty and students. The organization’s mandate is to work with the community in the delivery of services to those who are marginally housed, homeless or at risk of homelessness in Hamilton. MacSOC was founded in 1999 by two McMaster nursing students.
MacSOC volunteers go out on Wednesday nights to provide the homeless with food, clothing, blankets and health information, as well as assistance in connecting to medical services.
MacSoc’s volunteers Alyshaah Kaba, Medinat Giwa, Dan Lawlor and Ray Lawlor met with Kehila students when they picked up the donations.
Lawlor told the students that there were some people in the city who were cold and living on the street and who weren’t able to afford to live nicely. There were gasps of surprise when the students heard that children their age and homeless elderly people needed these gifts to keep warm.
People in need can pick up the blankets and sleeping bags at a drop-in centre in a downtown church operated by the Hamilton’s Homeless Project.
“You should be very proud of yourselves,” said Kaba as she handed a plaque to Kehila student Ethan Feldman, honouring the school and thanking it for supporting MacSOC.
Ger-Rogers learned about MacSOC in 2002, when she wanted the students at her previous school to get involved in community work. Many programs, such as ones at hospitals and soup kitchens, don’t accept volunteers under 15.
She says that Kehila will also donate winter coats to the homeless.
Quoting anthropologist Margaret Mead, Ger-Rogers says her motto is, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”