September 19, 2002
The Mitzvah’s in the Mail
We need more stamps," a little boy yells. "How many cards do we have left?" asked a dark-haired woman. "I have more envelopes!" shouts a girl in a skirt. It's the Wednesday before Rosh Hashana at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda, yet the residents don't seem to mind the noise level, which rises again when two boys start banging on a nearby piano. Still, the octogenarians have smiles on their faces. Who knew that sending out holiday cards could be so much fun?
The lively visitors are several families from Calabasas who have dedicated their time to various charities and volunteer opportunities. "We're basically a mitzvah group," says Debbi Molnar, the founder of the organization, which has no name. This is the group's second year helping the elderly reach out to loved ones at Rosh Hashana. "A lot of these folks want to send holiday cards, but they need help," explained Todd Molnar, Debbi's husband. "That's why we're here."
Jo Zuckerman, 88, closes her thick address book after completing her last card. "This evening is lovely," she says, "The children are behaving so well and are so happy to help." Other residents, like Yvette Concoff, are still writing away as preteens sit beside them addressing, sealing, stamping and, best of all, chatting with those they are helping.
"I put on stamps and sealed envelopes for two different women," said Michael Nordon, 10. "I'm glad to be able to do nice things for other people."
"If the kids don't learn to give back to the community, it's hard to learn it as an adult," says Molnar. The group, which is 12 families strong, gets together at least once a month to perform charitable acts like this one.
With three helpers, Concoff, 89, was able to send out 26 cards this year, but it's not the letters she's happy about: "Kids are always beautiful, and this was just darling," she says with a smile.