JFCS staff lend a hand to one of our neighbors for this year’s MLK Day of Service volunteer project
By Dana Shapiro • JFCS Community & Volunteer Engagement Manager
At JFCS, we believe in Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of serving others, in addition to the Jewish value of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”). Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities, so we continued our tradition of offering an annual MLK Day of Service volunteer project for staff to partake in. This was our first in-person MLK Day of Service project since 2019, so it was extra nice to be able to physically gather again.
JFCS staff from multiple departments took time out of their busy schedules to come together to volunteer with our neighbors, NCJW MN, on Tuesday, Jan. 17. Staff appreciated getting the opportunity to meet colleagues who work in other departments, as well as spend time “doing good” with those they don’t typically see as much. We learned about the work NCJW MN focuses its efforts on in the community and participated in a project supporting Periods Happen, its project that combines research, direct service, and citizen advocacy to bring menstrual equity to Minnesota schools. Our group was tasked with helping to make NCJW’s distribution possible (and more efficient) by sorting and organizing products currently stored in its office suite. We also donated a few bags worth of pads to add to its inventory.
In the 2021-22 school year, nearly 69,000 products were distributed to schools, organizations and mutual aid programs, according to NCJW. As Minnesotans anxiously await the passage of a bill to provide state funding for schools to make products available to students, NCJW must continue distributing products throughout the 2022-23 school year.
“I was so grateful to the team of JFCS volunteers that gave their time and enthusiasm to lend a hand at NCJW! It’s been such a busy few months and I’d been procrastinating this sorting/counting project, and don’t know when I would have been able to tackle it without this volunteer support. I shared with them about the work we do at NCJW, explained the project and what I needed accomplished, and they did an amazing job jumping right in, organizing themselves to be most efficient, and simply getting to work – all while bringing lots of great team spirit and camaraderie to our typically lonely office. Altogether, JFCS volunteers sorted through 5,150 pads and liners, and at least 4,000 tampons, which will make a huge impact for the schools that we supply with these products.” – Erica Solomon, NCJW Executive Director
“The reason I chose to volunteer with this NCJW project was due to my lack of knowledge about the agency. I know a lot about what PRISM (one of the other agencies in JFCS’ building) does and its different programs. I did not know much about NCJW and thought this would be a great opportunity to learn more about them as well as help out. I really enjoyed learning the history of NCJW and about all the great ways they help in our community. I also liked that we all came together from JFCS (many different departments) to complete a task. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this wonderful experience.” – Mia Megas, JFCS ParentChild+ Support Specialist