Chanukah in 3D: Volunteer adds a new dimension of joy to Chai Lifeline families

The Chanukah story teaches us how a small army was able to miraculously defeat a much larger army. 

Our inspirational Chanukah story this year involves one young volunteer who made a big difference in the lives of our Chai Lifeline families. 


Our version begins five months ago when Jacob Thomas received a 3D printer as a bar mitzvah gift from his friends. Around the holiday season, Jacob noticed that there were other organizations creating 3D toys for toy drives and thought, “I wonder if anyone is doing that specifically for Chanukah?!” 

He learned that no other local organization does anything of the sort, so Jacob took it upon himself to make it happen. He saw that Chai Lifeline Midwest was having a toy drive and took the initiative to reach out to Leah Israel, the program coordinator. Leah immediately brought Jacob’s idea to the team and the entire staff was blown away by his innovation and motivation. 


The next step was to spread the word and get others involved. Lucky for Jacob, both the students and staff at Hillel Torah were eager to help. Jon Friedman, one of Jacob’s classmates’ fathers, also printed many of the toys. Jacob gives another shoutout to the IT staffer Mr. Goldman for his help!  

Once he had his Chanukah helpers, they set out to design what toys to print. The designs were sent to the 3D printers -that is Jacob’s plus enlisting some of Hillel Torah’s 3D printers.  Jacob’s personal favorite toy was the dragon because of all the moving pieces. He considers the dragon a creature of creativity and that’s the essence of 3D printing: Making designs come to life. 


The 3D printed toys were scattered on the tables of the annual Leon Korol Chanukah Party adding dimension to the animal theme. The toys served as far more than just decoration. As soon as the party began the kids ran to the tables to admire the 3D toys. All around the party kids were running around excitedly with their new toys.

It wasn’t only the kids who enjoyed the toys. Staff and parents enjoyed fidgeting (the adult version of playing!) with the 3D toys.


It made Jacob so incredibly happy to see the kids playing with the 3D toys and was having fun pointing out which ones he made and which ones the school did. It meant so much to him to have created something that brought joy and light to Chai Lifeline families during Chanukah. 

Jacob could have reached out to other organizations to get involved with their toy drives, but there was a reason he specifically chose Chai Lifeline. Last Chanukah, Jacob had emergency brain surgery and was so appreciative for Chai Lifeline’s help that he wanted to give back in a creative way. 

When Jacob isn’t helping make toys for Chai Lifeline families, he enjoys creating balloon art. He even started a balloon and 3D printer business and can be reached at Both Chai Lifeline Midwest and Jacob are excited to continue this partnership for years to come.

The entire staff at Chai Lifeline is so impressed that one young man can make such a difference. Jacob encourages others to follow his lead and think of an idea and find the people who can help make it happen. 

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