Shawn Evenhaim and Shoham Nicolet were both officers in the Israeli army, so they know what it means to be able to sit down during a ten-minute break in action on the field and open a package with some snacks and towelettes and a personal letter from someone overseas thanking you for protecting the Jewish homeland.
When the fire broke out in northern Israel on Thursday, Evenhaim, a board member of the Los Angeles-based Israel Leadership Council, and Nicolet, ILC’s executive director, mobilized, military-style, to send that kind of succor to the firefighters.
ILC worked with the Jewish National Fund to set up contacts with the firefighters and figure out what they needed and how to best get it there.
Nicolet, who was in Israel at the time, ordered 100 pizzas from the Haifa Pizza Hut to be delivered to the frontlines, courtesy of ILC.
Evenhaim contacted a childhood friend who works for Supersol, one of Israel’s largest grocery chains, and arranged to have 400 packages of food and hygiene items packed and delivered to the firelines. At the same time, Evenhaim contacted Kadima Academy in West Hills and the kids all wrote personal letters – some in Hebrew, some in English, many with illustrations—thanking the firefighters and police officers, as well as letters to children who were evacuated. Those letters were scanned and then printed in Israel, and included in the care packages, which reached firefighters by Sunday.
The entire operation cost ILC under $10,000, most of which has already been raised.
“When we heard about the fire our immediate reaction was that we wanted to make an impact in the field, at the frontlines,” Evenhaim said. “I know there are many organization that will raise money for bigger things, but our mission was to concentrate on helping the real heroes on the ground.”