The Breaking Israel News and Israel365 teams recently enjoyed a day away from the office to participate in Colel Chabad’s Pantry Packers charity organization. Pantry Packers is the food distribution branch of Colel Chabad. Established in 1788, Colel Chabad is the oldest continuously operating network of social services in Israel.
“Colel Chabad is known throughout Israel for their great charity work,” explained Orly Gibson, Office Manager for Breaking Israel News. “When organizing our office day trip, I sought to combine a fun activity with something meaningful.“
The visit began with an informative and emotional film about Israel’s expanding poverty situation followed by an explanation of how to fill the food boxes and scenes of hungry families throughout the Holy Land receiving their provisions. “That film showed me how fortunate I am in my life,” expressed Ariella Mendlowitz, Outreach Director for Breaking Israel News.
Every month, Pantry Packers delivers household necessities to about 5,000 homes of Israel’s poorest families and senior citizens. The boxes contain non-perishable food staples along with potatoes, root vegetables and household maintenance supplies.
Food staples are delivered in bulk to the Pantry Packers plant where visitors and tourists work as a team to bag the supplies in a sanitary and efficient system. Donning aprons, plastic gloves and hair caps, the Breaking Israel News team received a quick lesson on how to create an efficient assembly line and got to work.
“There was an overwhelming sense of camaraderie,” reflected Gila Leipnik, Social Media Manager for Israel365. “The atmosphere was so positive and packing the boxes was, surprisingly, really fun. Doing a good deed felt great and it really bolstered the team spirit too.”
Rabbi Menachem Traxler, Director of Volunteering for Pantry Packers, explained to Breaking Israel News that this system saves Colel Chabad 30 percent on the overall cost of supplies. In addition, as noted by Lorien Balofsky, Art Director for Breaking Israel News, “This experience gave us all an opportunity to learn about ourselves as a group and not just as individuals.”
Box recipients are screened and selected on a non-discriminatory basis by the social services departments of local municipalities without regard to gender, ethnic background or degree of religious observance. Food basket contents are constantly being individually fine-tuned for each beneficiary to assure that people get what they need without waste or lack.
“Colel Chabad thinks of everything to make receiver and volunteer feel good,” noted Ayal Kellman, Director of Operations for Breaking Israel News. “Not only did each bag of rice that we packed receive a decorative Colel Chabad label but we also got to put a sticker on the back which read, “Packed with love by Breaking Israel News”.
Rabbi Traxler expressed to the Breaking Israel News team that there are various levels for giving charity. “The highest level is when the giver does not know who is receiving and the receiver does not know who is giving. Even higher than that is when the giver gives with a smile on their face.”
Through this experience, it is clear that both Pantry Packers volunteers and recipients end up with smiles on their faces