Jewish students at more than 80 Hillels around the world came together to celebrate Good Deeds Day, an international day of volunteering on April 3. Good Deeds Day, which started in Israel in 2007, has become an annual tradition for Hillels. Here are highlights from some of their volunteer projects:
Gloves, shovels, rakes — check. More than 80 Baltimoreans weeded beds and planted seeds in the Urban Farm, a communal vegetable garden at Towson University. Among the attendees were students from Towson Hillel, Goucher College Hillel, and University of Maryland Hillel.
Over 100 students participated in a series of volunteer events organized by University of Michigan Hillel. Among the events were a river clean-up and gardening on the 350-acre campus farm. Students also volunteered at Maize & Blue Cupboard, which helps Michigan students experiencing food insecurity.
University of Connecticut Hillel students packed hygiene kits for those in need, wrote letters to sick patients, engaged in a textbook swap, and swabbed their cheeks to be registered as bone marrow donors for blood cancer patients. The volunteer events were co-hosted with Dignity Grows, Gift of Life, and Campus Wide Initiative.
Franklin and Marshall College Hillel organized a Shabbat dinner welcoming Afghan refugees to Lancaster, PA, where the college is based. Students brought travel-sized toiletries for a donation drive to help refugees. This is part of a larger project to support Afghan refugees. Earlier activities included letter writing and making welcome packages with the Jewish Family Services of Lancaster.
About 80 students from Tel Hai College Hillel, located in northern Israel, baked challah for Ukrainian refugees, students, and elders for Shabbat.
Hillel International professionals volunteered at Bread for the City, a nonprofit that helps low-income residents in Washington, D.C. Each week, Bread for the City delivers more than 5,000 bags of food and provides free legal services and medical support. The Hillel professionals spent an afternoon packing more than 500 bags of nutritious food for families in need.
Hillel CASE, which serves Jewish students and young adults in Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, and Azerbaijan, hosted over 100 programs and projects in honor of Good Deeds Day. To support Ukraine amid the ongoing crisis, Hillel CASE has assembled food and hygiene packages, housed refugees, held online Shabbatot, and helped in evacuation efforts.
Brandeis University Hillel partnered with other campus organizations to engage students for Good Deeds Day. More than 50 Jewish students came together to paint puzzles for children and write letters to cancer survivors and senior citizens.
Oona Wood, 21, served as the Hillel student coordinator for Good Deeds Day. “Good Deeds Day is an active display of Tikkun Olam,” said Wood, who is studying politics and Judaic studies.
Emma Lichtenstein is a senior at Brandeis University.