PHOTOS: Chai Lifeline’s Annual Honey Engel Toy Drive

For the past 18 years, Chai Lifeline NJ/PA has collected toys for sick children and their families through its Annual Honey Engel Toy Drive. The response to this year’s drive has been especially strong. Toys have been arriving from all areas of the Garden and Keystone States, with gifts collected by schools, shuls, JCCs, federations and other groups. Rabbi Sruli Fried, director of Chai Lifeline NJ/PA, personally thanked the students of Kushner Academy in Livingston, NJ, as well as Hillel Yeshiva in Deal and Bais Faiga in Lakewood, for their involvement.

“The tremendous outpouring of giving from so many people demonstrates to the Chai Lifeline families that they are not alone,” Rabbi Fried reflected. “The families see that someone out there cared enough about their daily struggles and did something positive about it.”

“Our Camp Simcha former staff have taken on the challenge of serving in leadership positions in their respective communities, encouraging their friends and families to get involved in the toy drive, gathering as many toys as possible for the children of Chai Lifeline,” said Mrs. Miriam Tennenbaum, director of Camp Simcha Alumni Relations.

PBA Local 71 in Lakewood gave a generous donation, which was presented by PBA President Officer Mark Zwebiec, who said that they “just wanted to do something for these special children.” Whether it’s arduous treatments or a lifelong illness, superhuman strength is required for Chai Lifeline’s children and their families to persevere.

“The hardest time of year is around Yom Tov,” says the mother of a cancer patient. “We live in a kind of vacuum and need to focus on just getting through the day. We don’t have the time to think about the upcoming Yom Tov.”

Chai Lifeline’s toy drive ensures that all children feel excitement leading up to this festive time. With toy drop-off boxes filling up across neighborhoods, offices, schools and stores, all members of the community are given an opportunity to truly make a difference. This year’s toy drive has been especially unique thanks to the Adopt-a-Family program, which offers families the opportunity to provide specific gift preferences of a Chai Lifeline family.

“Taking my kids shopping for ‘our family’ was such a meaningful experience,” says volunteer Esther L. “My seven-year-old spent a half hour deciding between two Lego sets. He was trying to imagine which set his recipient would enjoy more. I’m so happy my children had the chance to think of others.” Chai Lifeline expressed gratitude to all the many volunteers who participated by donating, packing and delivering the toys, expressing particular thanks to Mrs. K. Scheinerman for taking a leading role in this year’s toy drive. To bring the toy drive to your neighborhood or to participate in the Adopt-a-Family program, call 732.719.1700.

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