|High School Students Take a (Young Judaea Alternative Winter) Break!|
Alternative Winter Break participants volunteered with six South Florida based non-profit organizations:
1) Miami Salvation Army: The Miami Branch of the charitable organization works to provide basic relief and support to the homeless and the hungry. Young Judaeans worked at the Salvation Army on Christmas Eve and Christmas, helping to prepare and serve food at their soup kitchen as well as throw a Christmas party with arts and crafts, singing and dancing, and lots of holiday cheer!
2) Miami Ronald McDonald House: The Miami Branch of the national Ronald McDonald House is dedicated to providing comfort and support to sick children of all backgrounds. On Christmas Eve, Young Judaeans went to Ronald McDonald House visit the children and deliver gifts, toys and Christmas cards.
3) Hebrew Home: A facility that provides support for lower income elderly citizens who require assistance because of the physical, mental and emotional effects of advanced age. On Christmas, Young Judaeans visited and worked at an elderly center with its residents who, despite the name, are not exclusively Jewish.
4) Aventura Hospital Children’s Ward: The children’s ward of one of Florida’s most reputable and busiest hospitals. Young Judaeans visited with sick children in order to add some cheer to their holiday season.
5) Neighborhood Enhancement Team, Parks and Nature: Works to preserve the parks and natural reserves in and around Miami, with the goal of increasing the ecological sustainability of Miami’s habitat, as well as increasing human awareness and appreciation for it. On December 27th-29th, Young Judaeans went to Virginia Key Beach, which was once a “blacks only” segregated beach, but is now a symbol of improved race relations in the city. They removed exotic plants that endanger the local ecosystem, planted native trees and mulched the beaches to help support the local eco-life of Miami’s shore.
6) Feeding South Florida: One of the leading regional anti-hunger organizations in the country, FSF maintains a major food bank for the impoverished of South Florida, and regularly distributes food and basic services to the homeless. Young Judaeans helped sort donated food, prepared it for distribution and delivered it to the beneficiaries of Feeding South Florida (homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.) They also set up a school store so teachers could pick up school supplies for their students who otherwise could not afford them.
Throughout the week, there was a service learning component to help put the volunteer work into a larger context. Participants celebrated Shabbat in the spirit of Young Judaea and visited the Miami Holocaust Museum, where they heard from a survivor. Each participant received 25 hours of community service for the week.
To read personal reports from some of the AWB participants and see photos of their week in South Florida, visit www.alternativewinterbreak.wordpress.com.