Last week, when I wrote a letter in frustration after fruitless hours of attempting to get food to Floridians in distress before Yom Tov, I didn’t imagine I would receive such an overwhelming response.
Within minutes… yes minutes… of the Lakewood Scoop posting, I received a phone call from a very special individual in our midst. A seemingly regular guy living in Lakewood named Mordy Kaplinsky refused to just go on with his day after reading my letter. First he spent time contacting bakers that he had connections with. When they told him they simply would not be able to meet the need in time but told him where he could get at least some challahs in Florida, Mordy called me back and said he is sponsoring $1,000 towards the cost and I should just start getting challahs without worrying about money…
I literally had been about to give up until he gave that push to go forward. Thank you Mr. Kaplinsky!
Meanwhile, the chizuk continued to pour in as people donated both large and small to the cause. I still had to find enough challahs to go round, and had recruited people to call a few chain supermarkets in Florida that may have received shipments of kosher challah breads for the high holidays so that we can send a driver asap to collect them (at full price, nonetheless)!
Verified kashrus of course.
I meanwhile reassured Tomchei Shabbos of Miami along with Mark Rosenberg of Chessed shel Emes that they need not worry… we would get them enough challah as soon as possible.
After rounds and rounds of phone calls to bakers and distributors and supermarkets…. and a pretty penny later, we had 600 challahs and 100 honey cakes and very very thankful receivers!
Mr. Rosenberg said people were coming until the last minute before he had to close the command center before Yom Tov, but B”H we think everyone got what they needed for Rosh Hashana. We are now assessing the situation in several of the neighborhoods so that any needs before Sukkos are not saved once again for last minute.
There are a few additional individuals that require a special thank you.
Firstly, the Lakewood Scoop for their immediate response to try and get things rolling as soon as I reached out to them.
Another individual, named Yanky Cohen, reached out to me right away as soon as he heard I was trying to organize a food drive for Florida (before the posted letter). He was non stop in trying to connect me with leads to get what was needed. He in fact sent me the initial lead that put me in contact with Mark Rosenberg and Tomchei Shabbos of Miami.
Another thank you goes out to Binyomin Marmorstein, who was ready to get on a flight to Lakewood earlier than planned so that he could drive down a truck for us if we would have the goods ready in time. He also worked on several leads to try and get challahs.
A special shout-out to Mr. Mutty Tress for jumping in as always to help coordinate, and to Gelbstein’s bakery who ready to send whatever goods they had available.
It wouldn’t be right to leave out my own brother in Miami, Shlomo Goldberg, who ran from place to place collecting the challahs and delivering them to the drop-off location. (And of course my husband and kids that had to fend for themselves while I spent hours around the clock for 3 days trying to make sure Miami had challah for yom tov!)
A few others reached out, many whom I don’t even have names of, to see if they can be of help in anyway and I really appreciate it all. The bakers in Miami and South Florida Kosher’s owner who gave me wholesale connections and baked extras for us as well deserve a shout out too!
Last but not least, thank you to Duvi Honig of Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce for being from the first to create a fund on Uhelp.com to help collect money to pay for the post-irma relief. It is this fund that I relied on for the challah collection. (Uhelp.com doesn’t collect any fees so all the money goes to good use. They do appreciate tips to help them keep the service going. It is run by a frum woman, owner of grantwatch.com)
I’d like to take this moment to address a topic that came up a few times during this campaign.
A few people emailed some comments when they saw that I was simultaneously raising money for our organization Parnassah Network. The comments all with the same tone, seemed to challenge the legitimacy of us raising money both for Florida and for Parnassah Network. I’d like to clarify a few things that seems to be a misconception.
#1 we spent thousands in order to bring the needs to Florida, and that is without even hiring a truck or drivers to get it down there.
#2 Parnassah Network is NOT a money collection agency. We are a year round organization that runs prevention and networking programs that are all either free or subsidized and minimal cost. Yet it costs us to run an organization. It costs to pay our basic expenses too and it costs to plan programs, hire staff, and advertise. We generally foot more of the bill than we collect. But we need funds to continue our programs ,and while it’s thrilling to be part of a cause that’s saving an immediate crisis, it isn’t always thrilling to give your donations to a crisis prevention center. But that doesn’t make the funds any less needed. Duvi Honig cannot carry the burden alone on his shoulders. We need people to step forward, to either donate one time or to commit to support monthly in order for us to continue. There is only so much of his time and my own time that can be put towards this cause without additional help and support from the klal.
You were there for our brothers in Florida. Now please be there for your brothers in Lakewood, NY and beyond. You can support Parnassah Network by donating here.