Mitzvah magic aims to double families helped

Mitzvah Magic, a joint endeavor of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Woman’s Philanthropy and Jewish Family & Children’s Services, is beginning its second year of bringing together women in the Jewish community to perform hands-on tzedakah for local families needing assistance.

Last year’s Co-Chairs Pamela Dubin and Stephanie Evic along with Tamar Bergantino are heading the program, the beauty of which, says Dubin, is that it provides anonymity for both the recipients and the donors.

This year the Mitzvah Magic program will be assisting not only families with children but also senior families and single adults.  Many of these individuals and families had been self-sustaining in the past and now find themselves in dire circumstances due to the economic downturn.

JFCS helps these families with everything from food to utility bills; however, its resources have been stretched thin.  Families who are part of the Mitzvah Magic program receive additional assistance from circles of women that “adopt” an anonymous family hand-picked by JFCS. Each group is given a list of the items the family needs. Concentrating on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Passover, the circle members put together baskets containing food, clothing, basic necessities, grocery and other gift cards. The women deliver the baskets to JFCS, which distributes them to the families.

This year, the program will also include an educational component for the women in the circles about the cycle of poverty and the work of JFCS and JFSA.

The Mitzvah Magic project received special recognition at JFSA’s annual meeting in May. The goal this year, says Evic, is to help twice as many families as last year, when 150 women assisted 15 Jewish families. The number of women participating this year has increased dramatically.

For more information, contact Karen Graham at the Federation at 577-9393, ext. 118, or kgraham@jfsa.org.