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Start the Ripple on Orlando's J-Serve Day

Read this story in the Heritage Florida Jewish News

Community service can range from something as little as picking up trash to assisting children with special needs. It can be done with one friend or many, with help or on your own. It can start as something small and expand into something large.

This year’s Orlando J-Serve (Jewish day of international service) theme, The Ripple Effect, focuses on simple tasks done by individuals becoming part of a whole team. One good deed ripples across our vast community ocean, impacting others mentally, physically, and emotionally. Through this “Ripple Effect,” the J-Serve Teen Task Force intends to engage others in a fun, interactive activity that will alter the possibly indifferent perspectives on the importance of community service.

All Jewish teens in grades 6-12 and friends are encouraged to participate in J-Serve on Sunday, April 6, from 1-5 p.m at the Roth JCC. This experience will introduce Jewish teens to other Jewish teens, new opportunities, and new perspectives. It will help them explore the true meaning of community service as leaders, communicators, and participants through insightful programs.

Community service isn’t just about helping others. There are several different aspects to community service including leadership, communication, programming, fundraising, and publicity. During the Wednesday night Teen Task Force meetings, we discuss ways in which to implement these five parts. For instance, we practice our leadership roles by alternating who leads icebreakers at the start of each meeting. Regarding communication, we discuss the best method of contacting both teen volunteers and organizations for J-Serve. Additionally, we plan programs that will capture interest and leave a lasting impact. Recently we had a fundraiser at Bruster’s Ice Cream in Altamonte where we washed cars and scooped ice cream. The money we raised is going towards increasing the impact of our event. Currently, we are creating a promo video and filling social media with J-Serve posts, spreading the word and a ripple throughout the Orlando Jewish community.

This year, Orlando J-Serve’s primary project is a carnival for children who are underprivileged. Some of the carnival booths include bounce houses, typical carnival games, and food. Teen volunteers will run the booths and interact with the children. The event will open with icebreakers led by Task Force members Matthew Gottfried, Taylor Harris, and Hannah Procell, who will help connect teens and frame the day. The day will conclude with a brief activity and discussion recapping the day and connecting the day’s activities to Judaism.

So let’s start a ripple in our community. Flip open those computers and sign up as soon as possible! And don’t forget to check out the J-Serve Facebook (www.facebook.com/orlandojserve) and Twitter (@orlandojserve) pages.

J-Serve Teen Task Force: Hannah Procell (12th grade, Oviedo High School), Sophie Schnaper (12th grade, Winter Park High School), Sara Hoffen (11th grade, Lake Mary High School), Ilana Loory (11th grade, Lake Brantley High School), Kyle Sabell (11th grade, Apopka High School), Taylor Harris (10th grade, Virtual School), Jonah Goldberg (10th grade, Lake Mary Prep), Brandon Levitt (10th grade, Winter Park High School), Daniel Perreault (10th grade, Lake Highland Prep), Matthew Gottfried (8th grade at Sanford Middle School),

J-Serve is the International Day of Jewish Youth Service. Since 2005, J-Serve has been a part of Youth Service America’s Global Youth Service Day weekend. J-Serve provides teens with the opportunity to fulfill the Jewish values of gemilut chasidim, acts of loving kindness, tzedakah, just and charitable giving, and tikkum olam, the responsibility to repair the world. Across the globe, teens will join each other to make their community and the world a better place.

J-Serve 2014 is in partnership with Repair the World, Youth Service America, and Rock the Vote, and is generously underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

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