JFCS receives grant to launch PJ Cares service learning initiative

PJ Library, a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS), is excited to announce it has received a grant to launch, PJ Cares, a new service learning initiative. PJ Cares is designed to engage families in Jewish-value-based volunteering and social gatherings and get more people involved in PJ Library through these service learning projects.


These projects align with JFCS’ value of tikkun olam (repair of the world). During the next year, PJ Cares will sponsor 13 service-learning activities – about once per month –that will focus on PJ Library books, Jewish values and community engagement. JFCS received $15,000 to launch PJ Cares from PJ Library®, the flagship program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which provides free books to families raising Jewish children all over the world.


In addition to the Jewish-content books and music PJ Library Minneapolis sends to children each month, the events the program hosts – from story times to concerts, art activities and more – have been a great way for families to meet each other, socialize and have fun. But when PJ Library surveyed families last year, many indicated they were looking for community service opportunities as well.


“Families want social engagement time where they can meet and be with current friends,” said PJ Library Program Coordinator Debbie Wolfe, “but they want to get something meaningful out of it at the same time. This is where the ‘a-ha’ for a year of programming centered around community service with PJ Library came into play.”


The first event, PJ Cares for Kids, was held April 30 at the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Families decorated placemats for patient food trays, played summer safety games, brought their stuffed animals to get “treated” at a stuffed animal clinic, and other fun activities. Some participants also brought donations of new children’s pajamas for the hospital. It was a great kickoff to the PJ Cares series.


JFCS has been providing community service for over 107 years, said Chief Executive Officer Judy Halper, and the PJ Cares initiative is a great way to introduce the concept of tikkun olam to JFCS’ youngest volunteers to keep the tradition moving forward. “We love that our PJ Library families will have the opportunity to help others and learn about different community needs – all while socializing and having fun – thanks to this grant,” she said.


PJ Library’s impact goes well beyond the more than 170,000 books it sends out each month across the United States and Canada, said Judi Wisch, director of community engagement for PJ Library. “We have worked closely with our local partners for years to help advance Jewish family engagement, she said, “and now we are able to add financial support to help ensure the success of great initiatives.”