PHOTOS: The Pulse of Lakewood’s Heart Beats Loudly

img_3544By: L. Halevi. This past Thursday night I planned to visit the Tomchei Shabbos of Lakewood distribution center for about ten minutes.

I ended up staying there for close to two hours and left with a deep understanding that my prior understanding of Tomchei Shabbos of Lakewood’s operation was totally wrong. As much as I thought I knew about Tomchei Shabbos, wow, how little I truly knew or understood.

What I saw was not just a group of people gathered to do Chesed. What I saw was way beyond a simple group of people. What I saw was way beyond simple Chesed.

What I saw was a movement. What I saw was the inner workings of the heart of the Lakewood community- a blend of adults and children, Yungeleit and Ba’alabatim, Yidden of all types and stripes – united in one goal, to ensure that every family in Lakewood is provided for with dignity.

This heart that I saw was beating strongly with a pulse that, with each beat, saw hundreds of everyday food essentials being systematically loaded into boxes. And more boxes, and more boxes. Hundreds of Mishpachos will soon receive their weekly packages with everything imaginable for the week ahead, from Tuna fish to chicken, from Challah to gefilte Fish and even a Jewish magazine or two to enhance the Oneg Shabbos.

On the other side of the room, were two additional conveyer belts filled with boxes, and manned by fellow Lakewood adults and children. They all work together to fill the “monthly” deliveries, which result in close to 500 Mishpachos receiving approximately 9 overstuffed boxes of necessities, such as cases of chicken (this month, it was chicken cutlets, L’Kavod Chanukah) , fish (Tilapia LKavod Chanukah) , grape juice, potatoes, onions, carrots, pasta, just to name a few of the staples being delivered to stock their pantries for the month.

Outside, scores of cars, minivans and trucks line up to take the boxes to their destinations, to ensure that every Lakewood family can have yet another month of dignity, and this month, have a truly Happy Chanukah like the rest of their neighbors.

What struck me as remarkable was the nuanced differences in this week’s package than in the usual package. Tomchei Shabbos deliveries keep up with the pulse of the community; whatever is going on, Tomchei Shabbos is there to make sure every family is part of it. If it’s Chanukah season, the oil and other Chanukah items are added. If it’s summertime, freeze pops and other summer essentials are added. These aren’t just robotically assembled boxes that happen the same way each month; the hearts of the givers of Lakewood are tuned in to the hearts of the needy, and everything that is lacking is filled.

Everyday items are important – and they are of course in the package – but the “bending over backward” items, such as Chanukah cookies and a bottle of olive oil for the Menorah, and other seemingly extra items, are far from extra. They are what differentiate Tomchei Shabbos of Lakewood from anybody else. This organization is one that was formed by heart, is guided by heart and every aspect of everything they do is with heart. They delve deep into the indignity of each family they serve and do whatever it takes to right that indignity. From ensuring that the kids can go to school with a nosh every day (and a Chanukah themed nosh on Chanukah!) to be no different than their friends, and ensuring that the expense of buying olive oil for the Menorah does not impinge on the family’s regular expenses, makes all the difference to families that live with each penny accounted for.

Tomchei Shabbos of Lakewood is the heart of Lakewood, not just for Shabbos, not just for Yom Tov, but for everyday families, every day of the year.

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  1. Tomchei shabbos is an amazing org.
    After seeing the title, I was expecting to see an article about how many thousands of youngerliet are learning around town in BMG and other batei medrashim on off days and throughout the year

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