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Jewish Journal

Class Notes - Hurricane Heroes

by Julie G Fax

October 6, 2005 | 8:00 pm

Sarah Rose Isenberg had a sure-fire marketing plan and a product no one could object to. So the fact that she took in hundreds of dollars in a few hours wouldn't be surprising -- if she weren't 7 years old.

In the days before her lemonade sale to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Isenberg went door to door in her Sherman Oaks neighborhood delivering hand-written letters inviting her neighbors to support those who lost their homes. On the letter she drew a picture of a hurricane.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, one neighbor who came with a $100 contribution said she'd put the letter up on the fridge. Another elderly woman came not only to drink lemonade, but to deliver a donation from another neighbor, who was too frail to come herself.

Isenberg donated her $609.97 to The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles' hurricane relief fund.

Such kid-driven efforts have brought tears of pride to parents, educators and tzedakah recipients since Katrina struck.

At Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue, kids filled 150 backpacks with new school supplies -- and a small toy or candy -- for children who had to settle in to new schools at a moment's notice.

Kids at Pressman Academy in Los Angeles packed and sent 100 backpacks, while also donating 27 teddy bears they crafted at Build-a-Bear's Westside Pavilion store, which discounted the donated bears. A schoolwide project at Pressman involved assembling and packing personal toiletry kits -- a Ziploc bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and deodorant -- to be sent to shelters.

Families absorbed locally at the Dream Center in Echo Park received welcome cards from students at Valley Beth Shalom day school. The student council also organized a walk-a-thon that raised $7,500 for Katrina victims.

Students at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy have collected more than $5,000 for a Katrina relief fund, through a student council cookie sale in the carpool line, weekend lemonade stands and donated proceeds from bar and bat mitzvah gifts.

As for Isenberg, she proved to have a knack for courteous follow-through as well as fundraising. Within a week, she'd delivered hand-written thank you notes to all her customers.

Early Childhood at Kadima

With their new, permanent facility now in operation for a year, Kadima Hebrew Academy in Woodland Hills initiated an early childhood program this fall. The new Early Childhood Center (ECC) serves children ages 2 and older. Previously, the school offered only a Pre-K class for 4-year-olds.

"This space enabled us to fulfill a vision we had all along of nurturing our future students and their families," said Dr. Barbara Gereboff, head of school. "Research shows the importance of early-childhood education as pivotal to helping children."

The center, which can accommodate 52 children, is fully enrolled.

The ECC facilities include an outdoor area where children can ride bikes, play on a jungle gym, plant in the garden or paint on easels.

"Kids learn all over," said Hanna Livni, early childhood director, who described the space as an "outdoor classroom." Inside, the rooms are filled with new furniture , toys and school supplies.

For more information, visit www.kadimaacademy.org or call (818) 346-0849. -- Nancy Sokoler Steiner, Contributing Writer

You can reach Julie Gruenbaum Fax at julief@jewishjournal.com or (213) 368-1661, ext. 206.

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