Seattle Bar Mitzvah Project Raises $2200 to Fight Hunger

| April 16, 2010

Justin Coskey and sister Rachel prepare a meal to share with their community. Photo courtesy Gail Coskey.

There’s nothing heartier than a home-cooked meal – especially when the heart of that meal is hunger relief! Earlier this year, Justin Coskey of Seattle, WA, organized a spaghetti dinner as part of his Bar Mitzvah project at MAZON partner synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom. In the finest Jewish tradition, everyone in the community took part. Family helped cook, friends exchanged good wishes in advance of Justin’s Bar Mitzvah, and all enjoyed a wonderful evening.

The “price” for such fine dining was a donation to MAZON, of whatever amount one wished. In all, 118 people came to dinner, and Justin made 32 pounds of pasta, 15 loaves of garlic bread, 6 salad tubs and 200 cookies! At the end of the night,  Justin and his family donated the leftover food to locals at risk of hunger, and collected a whopping $2,224.81 for hunger relief, including $563.91 for our Emergency Haiti Relief Fund. That’s amore – and tzedakah! Here’s Justin’s dinner speech:

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King was a very inspirational man. He was a strong leader, standing up for what was right. A few months ago, I was asked what I wanted to do for my Bar Mitzvah project. When I learned that every 1 in 6 people suffers from hunger, I knew what cause I wanted to help. After viewing some different organizations, I wanted to donate to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

Founded in 1985, Mazon’s core belief is that in a world of plenty, hunger should not exist. MAZON donates all of its profits to different organizations primarily in the United States, but also in Israel and other International places.

Recently in Haiti, there was a giant 7.0 earthquake, causing death and poverty throughout the country.  Haiti was already an extremely poor country, and their situation went from bad to worse. MAZON, recognizing the need for help, set up an emergency Haiti fund, which was one of the two options of where you could donate to in the lobby.

Thank you all so much for coming, and fulfilling the mitzvah of Ma’Achil Re’evim, feeding the hungry, so that we can make a difference. Thank you.

We echo those closing words. Thank you, Justin. You’ve already gone from boyhood to menschhood! Your generosity enables us to support hunger relief, nutrition assistance and advocacy programs in Seattle, across the country and around the world.

Justin Coskey educates family and friends about hunger relief as part of his Bar Mitzvah Project. Photo courtesy Peter Mark.

As another element of his Bar Mitzvah project, Justin shared what he learned about our Seattle-area grantees with his synagogue’s Social Action Committee. This includes the following hunger fighters:

  • Jewish Family Service – Their newly-renovated Polack Food Bank stores and delivers 240,000 pounds of food and toiletries annually. This cut warehouse and transportation costs, and enabled “Consumer Choice”, a distribution model where clients browse and select foods that best fit their household. This increased efficiency is vital, as need continues to grow – over a thousand low-income families visit monthly, and volunteers home deliver to 400 disabled adults and seniors in Downtown Seattle and the Madison Valley. Check out JFS’ pictures of the new facility and opening ceremony last month!
  • Food Lifeline – Rescues millions of pounds of food annually from food industry, grocery stores, local restaurants, and farmers. This sustains 300 emergency food programs in Western Washington, including JFS’ Polack Food Bank. Ultimately, Food Lifeline provides nearly 19 million meals a year to working families and hungry people. Food Lifeline also researches and delivers hunger statistics for Washington State in its “Missing Meals” report.
  • Children’s Alliance Food Policy Center – Ensures Washington state laws, policies and programs work to end childhood hunger and fight childhood obesity.
  • Asian Counseling & Referral Service – The ACRS Food Bank addresses a key challenge food banks and pantries face: what if your clientele don’t know how to cook your foods? The ACRS provides staple foods for low-income, elderly and disabled Asian-American and Pacific Islanders, in addition to nutrition consultation in dozens of languages. They’ve lent a photo-set on our Flickr feed, and area residents should mark their calendars for the 20th Annual Walk for Rice fundraiser this June!
  • Lifelong AIDS Alliance – Every week, Lifelong’s Chicken Soup Brigade prepares meals and delivers groceries to hundreds living with HIV/AIDS and other life-challenging illnesses and disabilities. Each month, they also host a social meal with clients and staff members to build relationships and community. Because health and nutrition needs are often in flux, Lifelong provides specialized nutrition counseling to balance medication side effects, maintain immune systems and manage proper weight.

Want to make a difference for hungry people at your Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Contact Rosalie Licht or set up a fundraising page at Firstgiving!

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