Cincinnati Hillel students assembled 8,000 care packages during Operation Warm-Up.
A snowstorm cancelled their classes but it didn’t stop 200 volunteers from taking part in the 11th annual Operation Warm-Up at the Hillel Jewish Student Center of Cincinnati. Students from the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University and Hebrew Union College braved the cold to assemble and deliver 8,000 care packages for the area’s homeless.
The care packages -- two large shopping bags filled with necessities like toiletries, books, food, clothing and, especially important after the snowstorm, blankets -- were driven in trucks to shelters in six different Cincinnati neighborhoods. All of the items were donated. Planning began months earlier as dozens of students staffed the phones calling businesses and asking for donations.
“Every part of this program, from soliciting the donations to the pick-up logistics to the publicity, was led by the students,” said Jessica Segal, program associate at the Hillel Jewish Student Center of Cincinnati.
University of Cincinnati junior Nate Dumtschin was the lead student coordinator for Operation Warm-Up and is the Community Action Fellow at Hillel. “I took the CAP Fellow position because I wanted to be involved with Operation Warm-Up,” he said. During his four months as the CAP Fellow, Dumtschin watched in amazement as the Hillel building became increasingly congested with donations, “They filled the entire building, but I was glad to learn that there are a lot of generous companies.”
He was also glad that despite the cancelled classes, “I didn’t even have to ask my fraternity brothers to volunteer. Everyone was really happy to be involved.”
Being involved in community service is also a priority for University of Cincinnati sophomore Beth Rudolph, another Operation Warm-Up student volunteer. “I have a pretty privileged life so it’s important that I give back,” she said. “Tzedek [social justice] is a value everyone can embrace.”
“Operation Warm-Up is one of the best things we do, both for the community and the students,” said Segal. “It’s what Hillel’s here for: to help the students learn and grow.”