Reader-submitted: A recipient of Lakewood Chesed

I am not a taker. I love giving. Right now, in order to give to my children, I am forced to accept charity. I see Hashem’s kindness in so many ways that it is hard to understand why He did not provide me with a little more so I should not feel the pangs of taking. So, while I daven and do hishtadlus to raise my income, for now it is the remarkable acts of discreet chesed, here in my community of Lakewood, that helps us stay afloat. Let me describe my experience of “taking”:

Yesterday morning I receive a friendly text message, complete with emojis, that there will be Yom Tov pickup Sunday night 9-11PM at Tomchei Shabbos. Another text reminder comes that afternoon. I arrive at the Yom Tov pickup location at 9:03PM and there was already a line of cars waiting. While I wait, I am witness to a huge colossal operation! Dozens of volunteers help to load each individual car with enough boxes to nearly fill the entire car. As I continue to wait in line; it dawned on me! Why are all the cars lining up instead of parking and helping to collect and load the goods? The answer was obvious. This system spares us the humiliation of being noticed as a recipient of Tzedaka. Instead, I felt there was a certain peacefulness reigning among the line of cars. We all knew that there were others together with us in line, but, in the darkness of the night, we cannot see and identify each other. It was well worth the wait to afford ourselves this measure of privacy.

When my turn finally came, a kind fellow approached my car to ask me for… what? Instructions?! Yes, I might be the recipient, the beggar, but he is accepting my instructions and will make changes and tweaks based on my needs. Still, this is the only person that approaches the rolled down car window. All the other volunteers do not appear to even take notice of the car occupants so I don’t feel my privacy is violated. The volunteers load the car in seconds, and then I’m off – feeling the car weighing down as I drive. As I leave the area, I pass a much longer line of cars waiting. I understand that they, too, will receive. I cannot see them but I know they are my brethren and I am together with them in their pain. I am amazed at the amount of giving and chesed I have just been witness to.

We received from Tomchei Shabbos a total of 13 boxes with everything from grape juice to meat to plastic-ware. But it doesn’t stop there. Last Yom Tov, when we ran out of meat, a volunteer went special on Chol Hamoed to get me another roast. No questions asked, no judgments. It’s all about giving in the most discreet way possible.

Yes, I received and now I have food for Yom Tov. But I am not complacent to allow myself to be reliant on Tzedaka. Each time I accept charity it pricks me. I want to give, not take. It makes me feel even worse not to have the financial ability to return something to Tomchei Shabbos. Especially now, when I see their one million dollar campaign where each dollar is multiplied by 4, what can I do to help? I will give a few dollars just to be part of it, but I wish I could do more. Perhaps this writing can be my contribution. Nobody asked me to write this or told me what to write. I am, of my own volition, sharing with you my story which is testament to the great endeavors of Tomchei Shabbos of Lakewood. Please, please take part and click here to join the movement.

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