~~><><><><> Zichron Chana Bayla <><><><><~~
"Helping Children...One Package at a Time"
How We Got Started:
The 'Zichron Chana Bayla-Kids for Chesed' Program was started in memory of a 5 year old girl named Chana Bayla, who passed away as a result of a tragic fire. A few months after the fire, her older sister also passed away. Their 7 year old sibling survived the fire but suffered extensive burns on her body requiring an extended hospital recuperation period. During that summer, as people visited this little girl in the hospital, they saw a tremendous need. Children in the hospital tend to feel extremely isolated from their friends and other children. They also can go, quite literally, 'stir crazy' with boredom. They need distraction. It is also very difficult for the parents of these children who must continually find ways to occupy their children.
That is why the 'We Care' Packages Program was started. These packages are created by Jewish youth from different neighborhoods, schools and camps. They are created by kids who want to make a difference in the life of another child. By sending these packages to sick children, filled with all kinds of games and activities, the hope is not only to occupy their time, but also to help them feel a little less isolated from other children. These packages let them know that other kids are thinking of them.
The truth of the matter is, that this program is not just for the sick children. It is also for the children who participate in making the packages. Let's face it, we all have problems. We have bad days, even bad weeks. We certainly have a lot of pressures in our day to day lives. As one young volunteer expressed, "For those of us who have been involved in this project, it has given us an opportunity to take the time to appreciate what we do have. It has given us the opportunity to push our problems to the side and concentrate on doing chesed for others".
Over the past 4 years Zichron Chana Bayla has taken on a life of its own. To date it has received requests for hundreds of packages from families and friends of sick and/or hospitalized children.
We receive an average of 2-3 phone calls a night - either from schools requesting the program be brought to their school, from mothers of bas mitzvah girls wanting to bring chesed to their bas mitzvah celebration and make it more meaningful, or requests for packages for sick children.
In a 2 month period alone, the Zichron Chana Bayla program was run at 11 bas mitzvah parties, a JEP/HALB shabbaton, a high school (100 students), a junior high school (200 students), a neighborhood packaging party in which over 30 packages were assembled, and a Chanukah party in Hackensack University Medical Center where these packages were distributed to frum children with cancer. Much to our dismay, the night after these packages were given to these children, we received requests for 7 more packages for newly diagnosed children or children awaiting surgery.
It is truly overwhelming, both emotionally and physically. The time and effort required to put together an event where these packages are made keeps growing and we are often tempted to turn down requests from schools and bas mitzvahs. But if we did, not only would we not have enough packages to meet the demand, we would also be depriving many children of a unique opportunity to realize that they can really be involved in chesed and make a difference in the life of another child.
The truth of the matter is that the smiles on the faces of the children when we deliver these packages tells us that we must continue our work. And so, we are turning to friends in different communities. If this is a project that speaks to your heart, then we need your help. Please visit our 'sponsorships' page to find out how you can help.
~ A Volunteer's Perspective ~
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