An early morning call on Sunday to Michelle Barnett, GIFT’s Founding Director, from Chaya Bayla & Shloimie Chontow, friends of the Rabbi & Rebezzin of Lviv, Ukraine asking for GIFT’s help, set off an incredible snowball of events. The urgent message had come through from the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, that the shelves of the supermarkets were totally empty, no food was available. The imposed curfew also meant people couldn’t access supplies and with hundreds of thousands of refugees flocking in to the city, the situation was, and is, dire.
Immediately, GIFT sent out WhatsApp messages & social media requests to its huge network asking for dry non-perishable food items at their GIFT Giving Hub in North West London. Within just 2 hours, thousands of pounds worth of food and essential items had poured in.
The whole community rallied together, medicines were generously donated through Hatzola UK & hundreds of people from across the community went straight to local stores to purchase requested items.
Volunteers and friends helped take Shloimie Chontow and his 9 suitcases to the airport, where he boarded a plane for Krakow, meeting a van driver there to take the cases of food, medicines and provisions across the border. The collection was so successful that GIFT has now arranged a 24 tonne truck to take the remainder of the provisions, and a very generous donation of 2 tonnes of pasta, rice and couscous to Lviv this week together with the collections arranged at Edgware United Shul, Saatchi Synagogue and collections from other organisations too.
Chontow remarked “It’s all Hashem’s power how He managed to get everyone together – especially GIFT, who was there at the right time, willing & able to mobilise so many volunteers to do such chessed – totally unbelievable.”
Following Sunday’s incredible food collection, Tikva orphanage also approached GIFT, with the knowledge of their network of volunteers and excellent track record in successful calls to action, to help collect new & gently worn, warm clothing for the children of Tikva Orphanage & for other Ukrainian Jewish refugees. The clothes will be flown to Romania on Wednesday with R. Milun and the CEO of Tikva, to the hundreds of children that have been relocated there from Odessa.
Last week, in response to a specific request by the Chabad Rabbi of Kishinev, Moldova, for hechshered snacks, sweets & crisps; GIFT collected 500kg of snacks which was driven there for the thousands of refugee families with children who are flooding in from across the Ukraine. The sweets arrived this week to the delight of the Rabbi who remarked – “ Thank you so much GIFT for your incredible sweet donations – I can’t wait to see the joy of the faces of the children when they receive these.”
Rachelli Lerner head teacher at Pardes House Primary School explains “A great teaching moment happened in Pardes House Primary School this week. When they saw the advert from GIFT, asking for people to contribute snacks towards the orphanages in Odessa, they decided they wanted to take it one step further. Of course doing a money collection always helps, but they wanted to do something that would help the boys understand how their assistance would directly help other children.
Every child understands the pleasure of a good snack when they are hungry, or being given a treat when they have had a hard day. And that is where this collection comes in. The Year 6 boys themselves went to each class, explaining their campaign and their desire to make a difference. They spoke kindly and sensitively and inspired each child to bring in just one snack, to help a child like them, across the world.
Friday morning and the entrance of the school was packed with Year 6 boys, collecting, packing and counting the snacks that the parents and children of Pardes House very generously gave. There was such enthusiasm from the boys, with comments like, “This would be the kind of snack I would want to receive,” which is exactly the message that the school wanted them to learn. The 746 snacks that they managed to collect was then delivered to GIFT head office to be shipped to Odessa. They are very proud of this campaign!”
Another beautiful & unique Giving initiative GIFT has recently launched is called ‘Kindness counts’. The idea behind it is that acts of kindness & prayer can counteract hatred and this platform gives people an opportunity to perform acts of kindness in memory of loved ones, friends or family who are unwell or in this case in the merit of children in the Ukraine, who need our prayers and support.
There are just 3 easy steps to GIFT’s Kindness Counts, click on the link, post the kindness that you are doing and then post the name of a child in Tikva Orphanage in whose merit you are doing the act of kindness.
Kindness can counteract hatred. Take on one act of kindness to do in merit of a child in Ukraine…
- Visit http://jgift.org/kindness-counts and click on ‘post an act of kindness’
- Pick a child’s name from the Tikva home in the Ukraine that you wish to honour through your kindness
- Post what you did and make your kindness count! The beautiful & thoughtful acts of kindness that have been posted on the GIFT platform include children helping younger siblings with their homework, phoning friends who aren’t at school that day, visiting friends /family who are unwell, doing shopping for an elderly person in the street, doing GIFT deliveries, buying their teacher flowers, saying Tehillim or even a simple smile at a stranger.
GIFT will no doubt continue to be there to continue helping mobilize the community to support the community in giving. To sign up to receive GIFT’s request for help – contact email@example.com
Sandor Milun, GIFT’s MD told us “We feel very blessed to be in such a position to support the people of Ukraine in this way. We have received an incredible amount of food and essential requested items from the community. Our community has stepped up in an unbelievable way. It is a huge privilege to be part of this campaign. GIFT will continue to be there to help mobilize the community to support the community in giving.”
To sign up to receive GIFT’s requests for help as well as volunteering opportunities – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org