JFCS’s Food Pantry is Not Just Food-One Volunteer’s Project

Warren putting donated supplies in JFCS’s Personal Care Closet.

Warren Van Nort is a rising junior at duPont Manual High School and a National Honor Society (NHS) candidate.  He is running a personal needs drive to benefit people who turn to the Sonny & Janet Meyer Food Pantry at JFCS, not only for food but also for toiletries and other essentials. Here’s what Warren shared about his project.

I am a member of The Temple and have been associated with the Jewish community all my life. After attending Hebrew High School in the JFCS building, I became curious about what goes on in that building during business hours, and so I sought out more information about the mission of JFCS. The main component of the mission that spoke to me was that it is based on Jewish traditions but also seeks to help as many people as possible in the community (and not just Jews)!

The Personal Care Supply Closet before Warren’s project.

This coincided with my entry into NHS and my discovery that I must complete a summer service project. The main requirement of the project is to ‘fill a need in the community,’ be self-led and comprise of at least 15 hours of service. When I decided that JFCS and its mission were the right fit (for both me and the project), I reached out! I knew that whatever I would do at JFCS would certainly fill a need.

I worked with Rabbi Diane Tracht, JFCS’s Volunteer Coordinator, to figure out what exactly I would be doing, as this project had certain requirements. People often don’t know that JFCS provides personal care supplies in the Pantry. Things like soap and toilet paper and diapers are as basic and essential as food but cannot be purchased through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

We saw a need in expanding the inventory of personal care supplies and went from there. I am working with The Temple, Adath Jeshurun Preschool, and both the JCC Summer Camp and Early Learning Center to collect supplies.Through contacting the various organizations that I wanted to take part in the drive, I have improved my communication skills greatly. I have also learned that even when one person says “No,” you should stay persistent, and it will work out in the end!

The Personal Care Closet after one of Warren’s donation collection.

I think it is amazing (and a little bit surprising) how much we have been able to collect and how many people we have been able to impact through this drive.

Rabbi Diane Tracht had this to say about Warren’s project: “Our pantry is here to ensure that people’s basic needs are met well.  Warren’s project has been amazing not only because it has brought in so many great products for the pantry but also because it has spread vital awareness of what it means to help folks live with dignity. In the Jewish tradition, dignity or kavod, is one of our highest values and we’re so grateful that Warren chose to help us in this mission.”

You can contribute to Warren’s drive through Monday, August 12 by bringing paper towels, toilet paper, adult incontinence supplies, shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, baby wipes and diapers to your local synagogue or JFCS.

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