Federation Good Deeds Day Surpasses Donation Goals

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Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

Good Deeds Day committee member Joanie Berger takes a photo with two staff members of the Thea Bowman Center, a nonprofit organization located in Cleveland working to aid community members of Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, after she drops off over 50 casseroles as part of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland's observation of Good Deeds Day April 18.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland received well over its initial goal for its Good Deeds Day celebration April 18, with more than 165 casseroles and 1,000 pounds of food items donated.

The Federation’s rendition of the international day of service sought to combat hunger in Cleveland by giving community members four options to help. Citizens were able to drop off frozen casseroles or lasagnas to be delivered to local agencies, donate food items to the Cleveland Chesed Center and Greater Cleveland Food Bank, make monetary donations to Harvest for Hunger or advocate for policies to end food insecurity championed by Jewish nonprofit Mazon.

“It was a fantastic success,” said Marty Shankle, the Federation’s Jewish volunteer network chair. “It was very nice to see how many people came out and really were excited about the opportunity to do some service.”

Mike, Jodi, and Brett Zawatsky show off three of the over 165 casseroles donated as part of the Federation's Good Deeds Day drive intended to fight hunger in Cleveland.

Car after car pulled up to the Federation in Beachwood late that Sunday morning into the afternoon to drop off goods. The casseroles – totaling over Shankle’s goal of 150 casseroles – were then taken by Good Deeds Day committee members to Cleveland-area agencies, providing resources to people in need. A large portion of the casseroles – 50 to 60 – were given to the Thea Bowman Center and Greater Cleveland Neighborhood Centers Association. The Haven Home, West Side Catholic Center – Moriah House, the Salvation Army of Greater Cleveland and Campus International School received five to 10 casseroles per the agencies’ requests.

Of the food items, 400 pounds of donated canned goods and nonperishable food items were delivered to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in Cleveland and 650 pounds of kosher food items were delivered to the Cleveland Chesed Center in Cleveland Heights April 20.

The other aspects of the Federation’s Good Deeds Day observation were also a hit, as Shankle said he heard from many of those dropping off food that they were also participating in the letter writing campaign to local politicians to fight hunger with a political stance.

“From what we heard Sunday, it seemed like there was a lot of people that used that opportunity to either have that be more of a family friendly activity with everybody writing letters, or outreach to some of their friends and family who don’t live in Ohio and aren’t able to immediately participate day-of,” said Shankle, a resident of Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood and a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood. “It seemed like every piece was truly a success.”

The event provided much needed supplies to Cleveland organizations offering relief to those experiencing food insecurity only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The battle against hunger is, however, nowhere near from over, and Shankle said he hopes to repeat similar actions to continue to minimize local food access disparities.

“A lot of people said they really appreciated the flexibility of us meeting them where they are, with three to four different ways to help impact an important problem going on in our community,” Shankle said. “They said it felt like everybody was able to do something, which was our exact goal. ... We recognize what a success it was and are actively already starting to look for ways to continue this type of programming in the community.”

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