Shout out

Teen philanthropists discover power of simple bagged lunch

The philosophy of Casa Maria, as described by one volunteer, is to treat everyone kindly and with respect, and as you would like to be treated.

The goal of this nonprofit organization that aids impoverished and homeless Tucsonans is most certainly a concept B’nai Tzedek teens learn through their experiences.

As part of the teen advisory council for B’nai Tzedek, a teen philanthropy program of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Coalition for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Foundation, my participation at Casa Maria began with preparing 100 bagged lunches at a fellow council member’s home along with Adam Friedman, Alyssa Silva, Cate Rubin and Adam DeLuca.

This task became incredibly enjoyable with the thought of actually distributing the meals and benefiting other individuals the next day. B’nai Tzedek Coordinator Bryan Davis, council members Adam Friedman and Sam Silverman and I then performed this deed of delivering the bags.

Upon pulling up to Casa Maria, I took a breath of air, holding back many emotions as I saw so many men, women, and children in need. Each bag contained a cheese sandwich, a cookie, juice, and an orange.

To the individuals involved in the distribution, this was merely a bag of staples that we bring to school each day. However, to the visitors at Casa Maria whose lives depend on receiving this food, these staples were, in some cases, the only food they would receive all day. As they received the meals, the individuals’ eyes shone with such appreciation and gratitude for our action that day.

After handing out the lunches, we had the opportunity to learn about the work of Casa Maria’s volunteers and staff in combating hunger in our community.

Each morning, the workers and volunteers prepare 300 to 400 cups of soup — no individual is ever turned away without food.

The environment at Casa Maria was like a family; most people knew one another and were familiar with their conditions, if they had family, where they lived, or if they had ill loved ones.

In this single visit, we witnessed the donation of three truckloads of goods, including food, flowers and much more. The volunteers emphasized that one does not have to wait until the holiday seasons to aid others, as there are millions of individuals living in poverty each day. After this experience, each member of B’nai Tzedek in attendance hoped to return and assist this wonderful organization.

This experience epitomized the B’nai Tzedek motto: “Give a little, change a lot.”

Are you 16-22 and interested in writing a Shout Out column? Contact Phyllis or Sheila at 319-1112 or