Hillel students assemble 900 hygiene kits for Syrian refugees



August 17, 2018

Actions speak louder than words.

That’s the phrase that resonated with Allison Egrin, an active student at Hillel Campus Alliance Michigan, as she helped package 900 hygiene kits for Syrian refugees.

“As social justice advocates, we’re responsible for physically helping others,” Egrin, 21, said. “We can’t just talk about issues — we need to act.”

Egrin was one of more than 300 students affiliated with Hillel and The David Project to participate in “Listen, Learn and Lend a Hand.”

Funded by the Genesis Prize Foundation, the event took place on Aug. 8 at Hillel Institute, organized by Hillel International and hosted at Hofstra University. In addition to hands-on volunteer work, “Listen, Learn and Lend a Hand” featured three breakout sessions, including a Jewish learning session titled “Why do we care?” and a civic engagement session titled “What do you do when you care?”

Students also heard from Syrian-born activist Ahead Festuk, who served as a first-aid trainer on the front lines during the Syrian Civil War. Festuk continues to raise awareness about the Syrian crisis through her work at the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees. 

Alli Berry, who serves as a David Project intern at the University of Michigan, said the volunteer project allowed participants to put what they learned about the power of relationship building into practice.

“There are always opportunities for us to improve the way we seek to help others,” Berry, 21, said. “And this is a great first step in reaching out to communities we haven’t touched or impacted before.”

Students transformed the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center at Hofstra University into a volunteer zone. Some built and taped boxes. Others packed them with toiletries and hand-written notes of support.

Said Jake Nitzkin, a Hillel student and David project intern at Michigan State University: “In the spirit of what we’re trying to do — become engaged, become involved, become passionate about issues affecting others — it’s important that we put in the work to make a difference.”