From Compassion to Action
One Young Volunteer Makes a World of Difference
When she started babysitting last summer, Amy Feldman started thinking about how she could make a difference. “Babies are really hard to take care of and baby products are expensive,” she explains. “So I wanted to be able to help.”
At the end of that summer, Amy took half of her babysitting money and used it to buy baby food items. She also handstitched and sold pillows in order to buy more baby supplies with the profits. Amy’s brother had volunteered with Jewish Family Services of Delaware a few years before for his Bar Mitzvah project, so when she found out that JFS runs a food pantry for agency clients, Amy hoped it would be a good match for her project as well.
For her first donation, Amy brought four large boxes of baby food and supplies to stock JFS’ food pantry.
“If someone had a baby, they could come here for some supplies and could spend the money on other things,” she said hopefully.
When the sixth grade class at her Hebrew school ran a bake sale for the international childhood cancer foundation Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Amy was again inspired. “I thought ‘well I should do one for Jewish Family Services.’”
Amy spent three full days baking 100 chocolate chip cookies, 100 sugar cookies, 100 brownies, and 50 cupcakes, which she sold at her synagogue during Hebrew school.
It was a huge success. “I made $197 in the end!” Amy smiled.
This time, Amy used the money to buy toiletry items as well as nonperishable food like beans, nuts, and pasta. “I learned that you can’t buy bathroom items with food stamps, so a lot of people have trouble buying those things for themselves,” she said, explaining how she decided which items to donate to the JFS Pantry.
“It is commendable that Amy took the time to educate herself about what items are most needed by our food pantry,” says Maggie Ratnayake, JFS’ Director of Older Adult Services and Volunteer Coordinator. “We can’t thank her enough!”
According to Amy, many of her friends and classmates want to save the environment or protect animals. And while she agrees that those causes are important, she has a different take. “If we don’t help other people,” she says, “then the other things aren’t going to happen either.”
Following her passion for helping people, Amy started volunteering with JFS’ Brandywine Village Network on a regular basis in the spring. BVN volunteers help older adults live independently in their own homes by assisting with tasks that become challenging as they age.
“I volunteer to do the vacuuming for two older ladies who are part of the Village,” Amy says. “One uses a walker, so it’s hard for her to vacuum. The other has bad hips, so it’s helpful for her too.”
Amy is one of nearly 200 volunteers who gave in excess of 3,400 hours of their time and talent to support older adult members of Brandywine Village Network. Basic household assistance like the kind Amy provides accounts for nearly a quarter of volunteer activity. Other volunteers drive BVN members to appointments, help with grocery shopping, or assist with technology.
“Our volunteers are incredible,” says Maggie. “Whether they volunteer once a week, once a month, or every once in a while, they are making our community a better place to live.”
According to Amy, there are benefits for the volunteers as well. “Volunteering makes me feel really good, like I’ve made a difference,” she says. “I think all people should try it.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at JFS, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-478-9411