As cold weather batters populations worldwide, JDC calls for support of winter aid efforts

Nadezhda B. shovels coal provided to her by the JDC and the JDC-supported Hesed Social Welfare Center outside Odessa, Ukraine, despite cold temperatures. (JDC)

(New York, NY) As extreme weather is sweeping across the United States and Europe, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is urging the public to support local and global winter aid efforts aiding poor populations. JDC has provided winter aid this year to more than 9,500 poor Jews, including homebound elderly, across the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The critically-important relief — deployed to ensure protection from dipping temperatures and rising costs during the winter months — includes thousands of tons of coal, firewood, and gasoline, warm clothing and bedding sets, utility subsidies, minor home repairs, as well as extra food and medical supplies for people with limited access to stores and facilities in inclement weather conditions.

“The human toll of extreme cold, especially for vulnerable groups like the poor, elderly, and children, cannot be underestimated. As parts of America are plunged again into dangerous temperatures, the warm home and clothing we take for granted is often out of reach for those on the margins of society, like elderly Jews in places like the former Soviet Union,” said JDC CEO David M. Schizer. “Today we are divided by many things, but we can all agree on aiding the poorest among us. We ask the public to support efforts — whether your hometown coat drive, volunteering in a warming center, or donations to winter aid overseas — that provide a warm sense of community for those who are alone.”

Among poor Jewish seniors in the former Soviet Union, many of whom live on as little as $2 a day in places like Ukraine, JDC Winter Relief centered on the payment of recipients’ utility bills, minor home repairs, heating appliances, and the distribution of warm winter clothing. The assistance was provided in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In Hungary, JDC’s relief efforts focused on providing firewood to needy households, with over 6,000 EUR worth of firewood provided for this winter season. In partnership with local Jewish communities in Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia, aid included flu vaccinations and needed winter-wear like hats, gloves, and scarfs.

Since 1992, JDC’s critical aid program has ensured that those without the resources or ability to secure appropriate supplies receive the critical support they need to survive frigid temperatures in places with little local support to help them. JDC’s winter relief activities are made possible through the generous support of its partners the Claims Conference, Jewish Federations, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Maurice & Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, World Jewish Relief, individual foundations and donors.