On April 7, 2019 the Jewish Community of Greater El Paso has the opportunity to again participate in Good Deeds Day (GDD), an annual worldwide mitzvah day celebrated in April. On GDD, millions of people around the world choose to volunteer and help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.
GDD began in 2007 as a nationwide mitzvah day in Israel with 7,000 volunteers working on 130 projects around the country. By 2010, GDD grew to involve 70,000 volunteers working on 1,200 projects in Israel. In 2011, GDD was an international event observed in 4 countries including the USA by over 140,000 volunteers working on over 2,000 projects. In 2012, GDD reached 50 countries worldwide and over the next several years the number of volunteers and projects grew exponentially. By 2015, almost 1 million GDD volunteers participated in 11,000 projects in 70 countries worldwide. In 2016, 1.5 million GDD volunteers worked on 14,000 projects in 75 countries. In 2017, 2.5 million GDD volunteers from 93 countries participated in 20,000 projects, totaling over 6.7 million hours of volunteer service. GDD continues to grow worldwide at an exponential rate.
We began observing GDD as an annual event in El Paso / Las Cruces in 2016. By 2017, 60 volunteers participated in four social action projects: Habitat for Humanity, Jardin de los Milagros, Frontera Land Alliance and Villa Maria. In 2018, nearly 200 volunteers participated in eight GDD-18 projects: Jardin de los Milagros, Keystone Heritage Park, Villa Maria, Children’s Project (at TMS), Comedy Night- Adult Diaper Drive, Hospice El Paso, Mesilla Valley Hospice and Annunciation House. In 2019, we will observe our 4th Annual GDD with the projects listed below.
Our projects for GDD-19 so far include:
Volunteers will be helping with clean-up work at Keystone Heritage Park. Some of it will involve "garden work" of all levels. Tasks include: trail building, weeding, pruning, planting, mulching, moving rocks, removing unwanted trees, cleaning our the tool shed, and cleaning the koi pond. All age volunteers are welcome, but minors need to be accompanied by supervising adults. The project will be from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. If you wish to be a team leader, you are encouraged to come in at 8:00 am. It is recommended that volunteers bring wide-brimmed hats, work gloves, and sunscreen and wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and closed shoes or boots. Ten or more volunteers are needed.
El Paso Villa Maria is a shelter for women and homeless people who are in the process of healing to wholeness. Volunteers will be preparing, serving and sharing dinner with Villa Maria’s residents. Volunteers must be over 16 years old. The volunteer work includes planning the meal and shopping for the menu. We will be providing all food, dessert, drinks, dinner supplies, paper plates, cutlery, paper napkins, glasses, etc. Villa Maria recommends bringing aprons, hairnets and rubber gloves. The project will run from approximately 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm with dinner service at 6:00 pm. 8 - 10 volunteers are needed.
Temple Mount Sinai will be the site of a social action project for young children which will include a clothing drive for the Reynolds Home, and the preparation of birthday bags for donation to Kelly Memorial Food Pantry, comfort kits for donation to the Salvation Army of El Paso County, and school backpacks for donation to the Center Against Sexual & Family Violence. The projects will take place from 10 am to noon.
Hospice El Paso is the first and now, the only nonprofit hospice in El Paso. Since 1978, Hospice El Paso provides comfort, care, hope and choice to patients at the end of life's journey while guiding their loved ones through the grieving process.Volunteers will be making necessities for patients such as pillows and blankets. An instructor will guide the volunteers in making these items and no sewing machine is required. Pillows will need stuffing to close/sew opening. Blankets will need tying knots on the edges. The volunteering will take place in the Federation's offices between 1 to 3 pm. An ideal project for volunteers with limited mobility.
This is a great opportunity for all of us to participate in a Jewish Community volunteering on worthwhile projects in the greater El Paso-Las Cruces community.
In addition to the wonderful satisfaction that comes from meaningful social action work, community participants will receive free t-shirts identifying our group and our participation as volunteers in international GDD-19. T-shirts will be reserved and given away on a first registered basis.
Temple Mount Sinai is hosting a shoe drive to obtain new shoes and socks for donation to EPISD at-risk children, the Reynolds Home, and the El Paso Center for Children. Shoe sizes donated can range from Toddler (age 2) to Adolescent (size 13). Brands do not matter and tennis shoes are preferred. A pair of socks per each pair of shoes is requested, but not required.
For over four decades El Paso’s Annunciation House (AH) has been providing shelter, sustenance, transportation, counsel and logistics to refugees from persecution, violence and poverty all over the world who are seeking a safe haven in the United States. In the midst of the current humanitarian crisis related to immigration and refugee policy, AH is playing a unique, indispensable, and globally recognized role in addressing refugees’ needs and helping them to navigate in America as strangers in a strange land. AH does tremendous work and needs our help this GDD. Everyone is welcome to participate in gathering and donating to AH the following needed items:
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Apples, oranges, pineapples, potatoes, and onions;
Shelf-stable liquid milk, with good-quality dry milk as a back-up;
New or near-new underwear, men’s, women’s, and children’s—but not large-size adult male or female, please;
New or gently-used shoes, men’s, women’s, and children’s, good quality, suitable for walking and being on one’s feet for long stretches;
New or gently-used socks, men’s, women’s, and children’s; and
Money, donations by cash and check are always welcome as well.