While every family looks forward to celebrating Purim, the work involved in preparing for the joyous holiday can oftentimes be stressful. For families living with pediatric illness, particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic, this time of year can be especially challenging. Chai Lifeline, the international children’s health network, offers a variety of programs and services to help its nearly 6,000 children and families with their everyday needs and truly enjoy their Purim.
“Families caring for a child with a serious medical condition already have a lot on their plate,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our staff and volunteers across the country and across the globe are there to help families in any way they can.”
In Chai Lifeline’s New York region, families received their own Purim Carnival in a Box. Kids created their own at-home carnival booths, which included 15 games, prizes, snacks, a photo booth, and other activities. To save parents numerous shopping trips and extra work, hundreds of ready-made mishloach manos were delivered to families to distribute on Purim.
Chai Lifeline families also received gift cards to purchase costumes at the Purim Mega Store in Brooklyn, while others and enjoyed an interactive pre-Purim virtual magic show with Eric Wilzig. The Chai Lifeline Freezer Program was busy delivering delicious Purim seuda meals to families in crisis.
i-Shine, Chai Lifeline’s afterschool program for children living with illness or loss in their homes, hosted an exciting, socially distanced Purim party in the Five Towns, featuring entertainment, dinner-to-go, a wax hand station, and more.
“Today I was in tears when I felt the love and caring toward me and the kids,” wrote one i-Shine parent. “I want to thank you and the generous sponsors for a beautiful Purim party! I haven’t seen my kids that happy for such a long time. The kids didn’t stop talking about the party all day!”
In the New Jersey / Pennsylvania region, volunteers gave parents a much-needed break, taking children out to dinner, shopping for Purim supplies, and packing mishloach manos.
In the Midwest region, families received mishloach manos, enjoyed a hamantaschen-making session over Zoom and took part in a Purim scavenger hunt. Chai Lifeline also offered megillah readings for homebound families who could not make it to shul.
Out on the West Coast, families enjoyed creating their own masterpieces at home during a Royal Purim Virtual Event, featuring a unique crafts session led by accomplished artist Sharon Saks. The event was emceed by Camp Simcha alumnus JJ Duchman and included surprise entertainment, games, trivia, and prize giveaways.
“Our kids had so much fun,” said one West Coast mom. “The art projects were amazing. We really appreciate participating in such a fun event.”
The Mid-Atlantic Region will deploy multiple custom-designed parade floats throughout the Jewish communities in Maryland, visiting more than 100 families.
In the Southeast, Chai Lifeline hosted a thrilling drive-through Purim carnival. Families were also sent face painting kits and took part in a face painting tutorial session over Zoom.
“During this month of Adar we have an obligation to be marbim b’simcha, increase our joy,” said Rabbi Scholar. “At Chai Lifeline, we are committed to providing joy, hope, and support to our families 365 days a year.”