Do you ever wonder: Who gives the yesomim of our communities Chanukah presents? Who gives them Chanukah gelt? Who ensures they experience the joy of Chanukah like all other children?
It’s Project Yedid of Misaskim. And here’s what they did about it this year.
Project Yedid is the division at Misaskim that assists almonos and yesomim beyond the week of shiva. This has been the most closely guarded secret at Misaskim for over a decade. In fact, hardly anyone outside of the families themselves is privy to the kindness and assistance continuously offered. Project Yedid began when Misaskim realized that there was no one to hold the hands of almonos and yesomim once the week of shiva was over. They were often the ones filling that void when families reached out for assistance in various matters.
Project Yedid now has over 700 families in its roster and provides a variety of services throughout the year. A highlight for Project Yedid families is the Chanukah distribution. Boxes filled with exciting toys, an envelope of spending cash, and gebentched Chanukah gelt are delivered to each home. Chanukah, a time of year that should be filled with simcha, is oftentimes a painful reminder of what they’ve lost. These packages help them experience that joy and feel less alone.
The preparations for the Chanukah packages begin weeks in advance. The coordinators create lists of families and the ages of their children to ensure age-appropriate toys are sent out. They place orders for DVDs, toys and packaging supplies, which are then delivered to Misaskim Headquarters in Brooklyn. The office is filled with stacks of games and toys to be assembled by volunteers.
A couple of weeks before Chanukah, money is brought to some of our most distinguished gedolim to be blessed. This year, a total of $33,000 was brought to nine rabbonim, including Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch, the Boyaner Rebbe, the Satmar Rebbe Reb Aharon, Rav Meilich Biderman, Rav Dov Landau, Rav Shaul Alter, and Rav Dovid Abuchatzeira, may they all be zoche to arichas yomim. They also visited Reb Hershel Weber, shlita, the founder of Hatzolah, who is responsible for saving millions of yiddishe lives. Each gadol gave their most heartfelt blessing of bracha and hatzlacha, a clear show of love to over 2,500 yesomim. This is the most priceless gift of all— one that can be treasured for generations.
In addition, each child receives an envelope filled with money that they can spend as they wish. Volunteers organize and painstakingly divide the money into envelopes. This is just one way that Project Yedid sends a message to the yesomim, telling them ‘You are not alone!’
Once the boxes are compiled, labeled, and divided by location, volunteers load them into trucks and vans and deliver them to homes, all in a day. This project is a massive undertaking by Misaskim, but one that has an immeasurable return.
As one almanah tearfully wrote, “There is no way you can know what this package did for my family. From my usually stoic teen to my toddler, the simcha that permeated the home when we opened this package felt like the warmest hug. The lights of the menorah felt extra bright last night. Thank you, Project Yedid.”