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Yom Rishon, 4 Tishri 5778
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The Social Action Committee organizes and/or participates in social justice programs in the local community, as well as undertaking projects and activities related to issues of national and international humanitarian significance. Every member of the Temple is considered a member of this committee, and they participate in the activities of their choice with caring and commitment. That is how we can accomplish so much on such a continual basis!

We are also here to help facilitate, support and promote social action projects of the Youth Group, Religious School, Sisterhood and Men's Club. We administer the Temple tzedakah box, enabling congregants to participate in the mitzvah of tzedakah, supporting many worthy causes, and educating Temple members about these causes. Our unique tzedakah box was created by VT member Sandra Mamis, and our CanJam bin was handcrafted by VT member Howard Himelstein.

Mostly we are "doing" rather than "meeting". We are always seeking new participants of all ages and always welcome new ideas for projects. The following are our current on-going community activities, along with a link to a person that would be delighted to answer your questions if you're interested in volunteering.

  • Lunchbox ~ Provide food for menu items, which may be dropped off at Temple. Help cook and serve a Sunday meal at LunchBox in the Family Partnership Center, North Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie, for those in need. Schleppers to bring food from Temple to LunchBox are also needed. Your financial donations to the Temple's Community Tzedakah Fund help provide other supplies vital to this project. We participate at LunchBox one Sunday a month during the school year.
    Contact: Linda and Marian at socialaction@vassartemple.org
  • CanJam ~ Whenever you come to Temple, please bring a non-perishable food item and deposit it in the CanJam bin. Especially needed are peanut butter, canned fish or other canned high-protein foods, cereal, spaghetti sauce, mac and cheese mix, canned fruits, pasta, fruit juice. Volunteers are needed once a month to take the food we collect to the food pantry of their choice. If you can help once during the year.
    Contact: Nancy Samson, CanJam123@aol.com.
    Other annual projects sponsored by CanJam are the Souper Sale (December), Purim Pasta (March), Chametz Collection (Passover), and Protein Plenty (July). The "Cereal Counts!" county-wide cereal collection occurs in May in conjunction with Mitzvah Day and has its own link to the Samson family at CerealCounts123@aol.com.
  • Hudson River Housing ~ Make sandwiches or a casserole, chili or soup that can be heated up at the Hillcrest Overnight Shelter for the homeless (located near Dutchess Community College). Also needed are fresh fruits, salads, chips, cookies, etc. to round out the meal. A few members go to distribute this evening meal one Thursday per month year-round. On-site volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult according to shelter rules. The shelter also welcomes donations of (all washable and in decent condition): bed linens, blankets, pillows, and men's pajamas, as well as travel size or regular size toiletries and hygiene products (shampoo, soap, disposable razors, shaving cream, deodorant, tooth brushes, tooth paste, etc). We make an annual tzedakah collection for the Wind Chill Fund which supports the work of the shelter during the winter when the need is greatest.
    Contact:
    Judy Harkavy, Judystan@verizon.net
  • Talking Books ~  Record a book, then the book and CD or tape will be presented to a local children's agency such as the pediatric ward at Vassar Brothers Hospital, the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, and Catherine Street Community Center.  You are encouraged to provide a favorite children's book. Guidance and any equipment needed will be provided by our project coordinator Susan Karnes Hecht (socialaction@vassartemple.org). This is a fun and worthwhile project you can do at home at any time that's convenient for you! Tapes recorded in Spanish are also in demand. The startup cost for Talking Books was generously underwritten by the Temple's Groten Fund.
  • Audrey Morgenstern Knitting Group ~ A friendly interdenominational group that knits and crochets items for those in need. Beginners cheerfully taught! 12"x12" afghan squares or other items created at home are welcome. Donated patterns, washable yarn, or money to purchase same, are appreciated. Meets at the air-conditioned Hudson Valley Community Center (HVCC), 110 Grand Ave., Poughkeepsie, Thursdays from 1:30-3:30pm year-round.
    Contact: Perla Kaufman at membership@vassartemple.org .
  • Trim-a-Thanksgiving and Turkey Trot ~ Congregants and religious school students donate nonperishable foods needed for Thanksgiving dinners (“Trim”). Congregants donate “free” frozen turkeys they have earned at supermarkets, or donate funds to purchase turkeys (“Turkey Trot”). Religious school teens arrange the nonperishables in gift baskets. All is donated to families in need in the community through partnership with local agencies. 
    Contacts:
    Turkey Trot - Sandra Mamis, socialaction@vassartemple.org
    Trim-a-Thanksgiving - Marian Schwartz, socialaction@vassartemple.org
  • Mothers' Group Helpers ~ Adults and teens help once a month with room set-up, hospitality, childcare, refreshments for weekly parenting group for new mothers in Poughkeepsie. Wednesday nights 6-8pm.
    Contact: Kay Bishop at socialaction@vassartemple.org.
  • Get Out the Vote ~ Providing information for voter registration and absentee ballots, rides to the polls.
    Contact: Perla Kaufman, membership@vassartemple.org
  • Environmental Issues: Paul Ciminello or Ron Rosen, socialaction@vassartemple.org
  • DCIC Interfaith CROP Walk for Hunger (Fall) and Dutchess County Mitzvah Day (Spring) ~  Preparations for both begin early! We need new reps from our Temple to help plan and organize our participation in these major events!
    Contacts: 
    CROP Walk - Howard Susser, cropwalk@vassartemple.org
    Mitzvah Day - Marian and Perla, socialaction@vassartemple.org

Religious Action Center (RAC) Blog