A Lower Gwynedd teen rounds out her life by helping with the Mitzvah Circle in Lansdale.
Mitzvah Hero: Jolie Berman, 13, squared her need to find a “mitzvah project that would last a long time” with the appeal of the Mitzvah Circle, a nonprofit in Lansdale that, according to its mission, “provides support, hope and dignity to individuals and families during times of crisis and poverty” through a variety of volunteer opportunities.
What It’s All About: “I wanted to help out people who are not as fortunate as me,” says the Lower Gwynedd resident who is the daughter of Beth Rabinowitz — director of the pre-school program at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park — and Scott Berman. “I went with my mom and dad over the summer and met other volunteers and got to hear their mission, and I knew that this was where I wanted to help. Every few weeks, we stop by Mitzvah Circle to donate school supplies, toys, books and clothing," collected from friends and family, "and ask what else I can do to help. I also stay and help sort and count the items.”
And she wants her contributions to count where they are needed.Says the seventh-grader at Sandy Run Middle School in Upper Dublin: “I want families to get things they really need and help them feel better during a bad time. I didn't realize that so many families needed items like diapers and even supplies for school and bookbags.” She is not alone on her mission. “My family is a huge part of my volunteering experiences,” says Jolie. “All of my extended family helped me collect school supplies over the summer and on MLK day I went with my mom, sister,” Samantha, 17, “and four cousins to Mitzvah Circle so they could see how important a place it is.
My parents come with me every time to help out, and my dad has been working on the Mitzvah Circle website. We feel that doing mitzvot is about the whole family.” That effort was continuing Feb. 5, when the family was taking part in a benefit planned by Jolie to be held at Nave Frozen Yogurt in Maple Glen. Partial proceeds from sales will benefit Mitzvah Circle while 100 percent of the funds raised from a gift-card raffle will go to the agency.
Not a One-Time Thing: “Every year since my sister was in seventh grade, my whole family has participated in the Friendship Walk,” sponsored by the Friendship Circle, a Lubavitch House project, “which helps children with special needs.” Also, at K.I., “I have helped the Caring Committee make concussion packages,” health care items that can be used by those who have suffered concussions, “and new baby packages. I have also volunteered at the Jewish Relief Agency,” which collects and packs food goods to send to families in need.
Good for Her: “I have learned how fortunate I am and that I should be doing mitzvot and helping others throughout my whole life not just for my Bat Mitzvah,” which occurs March 14 at K.I.