This Sunday morning, Nov. 2, although our clocks "fall back" to standard time, over 1,000 volunteers will "spring forward" into Mitzvah Mania 2008 -- Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's second annual day of community service. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., community members of all ages will share their energy and show their dedication to the community through acts of tzedakah.
These men, women, teens and children will work on projects that focus on Federation's critical priorities, with an emphasis on alleviating food insecurity and enhancing the lives of community senior adults. "Volunteers have responded enthusiastically, and, by signing on to be part of this great event, the Jewish community shows that it values mitzvot," notes Ira M. Schwartz, Federation CEO.
Community members are set to participate in 17 Mitzvah Mania projects that take place at the JCCs Klein Branch and the surrounding Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood. According to event organizers, volunteer spots are open for the following projects: Blizzard Bags, preparing 150 emergency bags for area seniors, and the noon to 3 p.m. shift of the Breakfast Bags project, assembling 500 packages to area seniors. Volunteers can also sign up for the No-Sew Blanket project. Project details and sign-up are online at www.jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania .
Enjoying the Mitzvot
Many community organizations, including synagogues throughout the five-county area, will host Mitzvah Mania projects in neighborhoods throughout the region.
"By collaborating with members of other synagogues, we have the joy of sharing in mitzvot together. We thank Federation for organizing this community-wide endeavor, which we continue throughout the year," says Margie Chachkin, an organizer of Congregation Beth Or's Mitzvah Mania community projects. Beth Or, located in Maple Glen, is sponsoring eight projects and partnering with 12 area nonprofits to collect food, clothing and other necessities for people at risk.
Mitzvah Mania 2007 was the impetus for Spin-a-Yarn, a project sponsored by Abramson Center for Jewish Life. On Nov. 2, the knitters who continue to meet weekly to make hats to donate to children's hospitals and other charities, will be joined by community members. "Our group has knitted over 300 hats since last Mitzvah Mania. This event has given the group focus and a goal," says Mona Gold, director of volunteers at the Abramson Center, adding, "Mitzvah Mania has connected us to the community at large through new partnerships."
Another Abramson project also connects the generations. Michael Wheatman is bringing his Eagle Scout Project to Abramson Center as a Mitzvah Mania project.
He will lead a group of volunteers in planting gardens in the assisted-living section of the Abramson Center -- "and residents will enjoy the flowers next spring, another example of the ongoing nature of Mitzvah Mania!" notes Gold.
Other synagogues sponsoring Mitzvah Mania projects include: B'nai Jacob, Phoenixville; Beth David, Gladwyne; Kehillah of Center City; Congregation Kol Emet, Yardley; Congregation Or Shalom, Berwyn; Congregation Shir Ami, Newtown; and Temple Brith Achim, King of Prussia.
A complete list and description of Mitzvah Mania community projects is online at: www.jewishphilly.org  /mitzvahmania or call the hotline, 215-832-0564.
Mitzvah Mania volunteers will also "lend a helping hand to Rhawnhurst NORC seniors by raking leaves, changing smoke detector batteries and light bulbs, and putting in storm windows," explains Elaine Griffin, NORC Project Manager. Rhawnhurst NORC is a joint effort of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Catholic Human Services and United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and helps seniors age with dignity in their homes. "People in our community are in need year-round," says Griffin, "and we hope this wonderful outpouring of volunteerism for Mitzvah Mania will be just the beginning."
Mitzvah Mania is this Sunday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.jewishphilly.org/mitzvahmania  or call the hotline, 215-832-0564to find a project that is right for you.