An Elkins Park teen is learning the real value of tzedakah through a program run by the camp where she works as a counselor-in-training.
Maddy Brunner of Elkins Park is a camp counselor-in-training who has graduated to a full-fledged Mitzvah Hero.
The 14-year-old daughter of Adam and Julie is earning her CIT stripes at Abington Friends School’s Summer Enrichment Program, where she has been a camper since the age of 4.
But this summer has proven to be extra memorable for the rising ninth-grader at Cheltenham High because of a community service component to her training.
As part of a program devised five years ago by Lita Weinstein, the camp's CIT coordinator, and with the full backing of Rusty Regalbuto, the private Quaker school’s Summer Enrichment Program director, the 23 counselors-to-be not only help out with the campers but also spend time volunteering at the Mitzvah Circle Foundation and Manna on Main in Lansdale; as well as Fishes and Loaves in Jenkintown.
Weinstein, who also teaches seventh-graders in the religious school at Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen and a Holocaust course to eighth-graders at Or Hadash in Fort Washington, believes in empirical education — and the Golden Rule.
“We need to start making our young people aware of what is going on around them in the world and the impact that they can have on other people by helping them,” she says. “As I say to my CITs, they’re the lucky ones; if they can’t give back and of themselves, who will?”
Maddy is one who does, enjoying what Weinstein calls the “hands-on, interfacing” nature of volunteerism at the three sites.
“I’ve never really done communal service work before,” says the Jewish teen. “It makes me realize how many people are in need, that you can’t take things for granted."
At the Mitzvah Circle, she and the other CITs packed snacks and meals to be given out at food pantries, and attached handwritten notes for kids receiving the lunches at shelters with sentiments such as, “Have a good day!” and “You’re not alone!”
“It makes me feel that I’ve done something right," Maddy says. "And when I see the people’s faces — when I serve meals at Fishes and Loaves — they are so thankful. It makes me feel so fulfilled.”