When our kids, Jacob (now 17) and Lily (now 15), were in Temple Emanuel preschool, we vividly remember being given a brown grocery bag with a stapled sheet of paper on it. Each month, the sheet would ask for a different type of food: raisins, crackers, pasta, canned vegetables, etc.

The kids filled the bags from our pantry each month with the specific food requested. If we did not have those items, we would shop for them together at the store, making sure always to fill our bags to bring back to school. These bags would then be taken to Family Table, the kosher food pantry offered through JF&CS.

In addition to donating items through Temple Emanuel preschool, we also took our children to deliver groceries for Family Table as volunteers, a tradition we have maintained for more than 12 years. We have always delivered food to one specific apartment building in Brookline—housing mostly immigrants, elderly people and Holocaust survivors—all of whom can’t get out on their own to shop.

When we deliver groceries for Family Table, we are sometimes providing these recipients with their only access to nutritious food, along with Jewish ritual items such as challah and Shabbat candles. However, one of the aspects of Family Table that we appreciate the most is that this program does not only serve Jewish clients. Family Table provides healthy food on a monthly and emergency basis to individuals and families in need, regardless of color, race, background or religion.

We have found delivering to Family Table clients to be the purest form of actively making a difference in someone’s life and providing a lifeline to people in need. When elderly clients open the door to their homes and welcome us in with groceries, the look on their faces is one of gratitude. There is one couple that we have been delivering to for years who have given the kids a small bag of candy each time we visit. It is the smallest token of appreciation from them, but it shows the profound gratefulness that they feel.

We have always taught our children the importance of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of doing acts of kindness to repair the world. Family Table has shown us the true meaning of giving back through hands-on community engagement. The act of bringing food—the nutrients that sustain us—to someone’s table is so simple, yet so profound.

If you would like to volunteer at a Family Table food distribution, please fill out one of our application forms: Waltham Application, North Shore Application or South Area Application. A schedule of upcoming distribution days can be found here.

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