Ways to Volunteer This Chanukah


The thing about doing good for others is that there is an inexhaustible supply of opportunities and, of course, others. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, there are people who need helping and a lot of different ways to help them.

That December has become a season to “give back” in the United States has much to do with Christmas and little to do with Chanukah. But you’d be hard pressed to find a bad time to recommit to service, so why not do it around the festival of lights?

This year, we have a couple of lesser-known options for giving a helping hand to those who need it.

two professionals meet for coffee as part of 3 Cups of Coffee
3 Cups of Coffee pairs job-seeking individuals with professionals in their field (Photo by Linette Kielinski)

JEVS Human Services offers a program called 3 Cups of Coffee, which just celebrated its first anniversary. First created by Pennsylvania Women Work, it is a short-term mentorship program designed to help job-seeking individuals connect with professionals in their chosen field for job advice and networking assistance. Professionals fill out a simple application to be connected to prospective mentees. After they’re paired up, based on mutual career interests, the two meet up for three one-hour coffee meetings over six weeks. Better yet, lucky mentor-mentee pairs who find themselves near a Saxby’s can get a free coffee for their efforts.

In the year that the organization has operated the JEVS banner, 16 pairs have been made, according to Chris Richter, marketing communications manager at JEVS. The barrier for entry is low, and the time commitment is, too.

“You don’t have to have been around a really long time to be a mentor,” Richter said.

Amy Anderson; Inna Gulko and Melissa Garman surrounded by donated gifts
From left: Amy Anderson; Inna Gulko, director of support services for KleinLife; and Melissa Garman (Photo by American Heritage Federal Credit Union)

Another way to pitch in this Chanukah season is KleinLife of Northeast Philadelphia’s annual Adopt-A-Family program.

The program, like 3 Cups of Coffee, pairs someone to give with someone who needs giving. Interested families and businesses are invited to “adopt” another family that can’t afford to purchase Chanukah gifts. Each year, participating volunteer families donate toys, clothing and gift items to deserving families.

This year, said Inna Gulko, director of support services at KleinLife of Northeast Philadelphia, seven or eight families have already been “adopted” through the Adopt-A-Family program, with contributions from individual families, private donors, synagogues, sisterhoods and the American Heritage Credit Union. Still, there is plenty of time left for interested parties to help brighten another family’s Chanukah when they need it most.

“It always feels great to cheer them up, and help them during the holiday season,” Gulko said.

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