The day-to-day work of an Israel Defense Force soldier can be fraught with danger. And while organizations here and abroad can't do all that much to resolve the dangerous part, they are hoping to ensure that, at the very least, the soldiers can stay warm while doing their jobs this winter.
One Israel Fund, based in Hewlett, N.Y., has teamed up with the Israeli organization Standing Together to collect donations to provide coats, gloves, hats and other apparel for IDF soldiers.
While Israel is certainly not known for its frigid temperatures, One Israel Fund executive vice president Scott Feltman did note that many soldiers work at checkpoints at night or are on patrol in chilly regions, often when temperatures dip below freezing.
"At the checkpoints throughout the country, soldiers literally have to stand outside in the cold," said Feltman. "It's difficult if they do not have the proper attire."
Those interested can donate a pair of gloves and a hat for $18; give a scarf, hat and gloves for $36; provide a winter coat for $65; or give a complete set for $100.
As of Jan. 8, the program had raised $5,000.
The stated goal of One Israel Fund is to provide humanitarian aid to people living in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and to former residents of Jewish communities in Gaza. The group has a number of active members in the Philadelphia area.
Standing Together is dedicated to supporting soldiers on active duty.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, Israeli members of both organizations will travel to several bases and checkpoints, and personally distribute the first batch of winter gear to the soldiers, in addition to offering them hot drinks and refreshments.
Said Feltman: "We're not only bringing clothing, but also giving a message to soldiers that not only does their own country care about them, but people around the world care about them."
Each IDF base has its own budget, Feltman explained, so while some have allocated funds for winter clothing, others have had to spend that money on more pressing needs -- some security-related.
"Obviously, in a lot of areas, they're focused on life-saving items," continued Feltman. "One base may have winter clothing for the soldiers; one may have gotten fleece jackets, but not hats or scarves."
To learn more about the clothing drive, call One Israel Fund at 516-239-9202, Ext. 10.