Mitzvah Monday: Putting Food on Thanksgiving Tables

Putting aside their own Thanksgiving preparations, volunteers gathered at Temple on November 23 for some tikkun olam, and in just a couple of hours, filled a great need in our community by helping fill the empty pots and pans of those who often go without food.

Mitzvah Monday is an annual event held at WHC on the Monday before Thanksgiving when members of all ages come together at Temple to roll up their sleeves and serve our community. But the volunteerism doesn’t begin that night. For days leading up to Mitzvah Monday, volunteer bakers were hard at work in their homes, preparing dozens of pumpkin breads and cookies for our “All the Fixin’s” project.

“All the Fixin’s” – a Bag of Goodness for a Thanksgiving Feast

“All the Fixin’s” bags include all the ingredients a family needs to prepare a Thanksgiving meal at home – potatoes, green beans, stuffing mix, gravy, the aforementioned homemade baked goods, a gift certificate to purchase a turkey, and much more. Volunteers prepared produce, decorated cards, and filled over 300 bags with all the fixings.

We prepared 257 of these bags for the families and staff at Abram Simon Elementary School, a D.C. public school named after our second senior rabbi. For more than 20 years, WHC members have given their time, enthusiasm, and financial support to Abram Simon Elementary School, and we are proud to continue that tradition on Mitzvah Monday. Simon Elementary wasn’t the only organization served by “All the Fixin’s”.

In early November, N Street Village, a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in D.C., reached out to WHC with an urgent request. For years, they had received Thanksgiving baskets from generous volunteers, but this year, their partner organization wasn’t able to provide these meals. Was WHC? Absolutely! With a generous contribution from the TOV Fund, we expanded our efforts and prepared an additional 45 bags of All the Fixin’s for N Street.

Green Bean Casseroles – a Thanksgiving and Mitzvah Monday Tradition

Other volunteers scooped, mixed, and got a little messy, preparing 200 green bean casseroles for Nourish Now, one of WHC’s partner agencies, that works to bring widespread food security to over 80,000 people in Montgomery County. For Thanksgiving, Nourish Now committed to providing meals to 1,000 families, and our 200 casseroles were a welcome addition to this effort. So welcome in fact, that staff from Nourish Now picked up these boxed casseroles that night so they could be distributed early the next morning!

The WHC Hunger Project – Because People Go Hungry Every Day

Rounding out a meaningful Mitzvah Monday experience was a food packing by the WHC Hunger Project. Recognizing that hunger is a problem all year long, the Hunger Project hosts monthly packings, where volunteers don hair nets, gloves, and aprons to spend a couple of hours carefully measuring and packaging ingredients that become over 10,000 nutritious meals for the underserved in our area. The food packing on Mitzvah Monday nudged the Hunger Project that much closer toward their goal of packing their 500,000th meal by December 2015. 

Thank you again to everyone who was part of our Mitzvah Monday! Visit our photo gallery to see some of the projects — and those who benefitted.