What does it take to bring 500 students from six different schools together? An exciting trip — and an amazing cause.
On June 7, the grounds of Adventurer’s Park in Brooklyn were filled with girls. Different uniforms, different schools, all there for the same reason. Each had joined Kids4Chai, a program encouraging kids to raise money for Chai Lifeline.
“When I introduced the program to classes, I explained that doctors and medicine are not always enough. When someone in the family is sick, the entire family needs Chai Lifeline to look out for them,” says Rabbi Yoel Kar, Kids4Chai coordinator. “I stressed to the students that, although they are young, every child has the ability to make a difference. They can use their unique talents and creativity to raise money so that Chai Lifeline can be there for families, whether by arranging meals or sending kids to Camp Simcha.”
Many students joined the program because they had a personal connection to the cause. “I heard my mother speaking about Chai Lifeline a lot because my mother’s good friend had a daughter who was sick,” shared eleven-year-old Faigy, who joined the trip.
Faigy wanted to help the organization that was helping others, so she and her friends went from store to store. They asked owners if they could donate prizes or food and then the girls arranged a carnival. “I got amazing prizes AND I knew that I was helping people,” she said. “It’s so cool to do both at the same time.”
One of the parents, who chaperoned at Adventurer, was the one who encouraged her daughter to join. “Chai Lifeline is an amazing organization that, unfortunately, is very needed. We’re lucky to be on the giving end and to have the opportunity to teach our kids to stay busy with chessed and to think about ways that they can help others.”
Her daughter didn’t even remember how much she personally raised — it was about the mitzvah and not the numbers. She and her classmates spent a few days organizing a successful bake sale. “Every time someone bought something, we kept thinking, ‘Yes! We’re getting even more money that will help kids who need us!’ We weren’t just asking people to buy something, we were giving them a chance to do the mitzvah too.”
One of the teachers at the park said that this is the tenth year that her class joined the program. “I really encourage it because of the unbelievable achdus it brings out of the class, and the incredible achdus that the trip brings between schools.” When Rabbi Kar comes into the classroom, she says, “The girls just know that it’s time to pull it together and give it all they’ve got. Unfortunately so many of them are exposed first-hand to the work Chai Lifeline does, so they really want to try.”
Her students raised more than $3,000 through a bake sale and a matching campaign backed by one of the parents. One student also found sponsors for each perek and then finished the entire Tehillim. “It was a lot of hard work and took a tremendous amount of effort from the girls,” she said.
“Kids4Chai gave them a goal and showed that it’s possible to put in effort and help someone else. We went through all the things that their money could help with — buying a kid a tablet to use in the hospital, sponsoring a day at camp — and they felt good about helping other children. They realized what they were doing and who they were helping. As a teacher, it was amazing to watch,” she ended.
The trip was an incredible show of achdus with students from many schools, including Bais Yaakov of 18th Avenue, Bais Yaakov of the Lower East Side, Bais Yaakov D’Rav Meir, Masores Bais Yaakov, Lev Bais Yaakov and Rabbi Jacob Joseph School for Girls.
Esty, an eighth grader, was one of the lucky girls there. When a friend was ill, Esty saw the way Chai Lifeline was there “always making her happy,” she said. “Chai Lifeline has a really amazing purpose and helps so many people.” She and her class raised money through “everything and anything” — a lemonade stand, carnival, and by approaching friends and family. “It was meaningful,” she said before a moment’s pause. “And amazingly fun!”
To join or learn more about the program, visit kids4chai.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org