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A Record-Setting Gear Up for Camp Day

On Sunday, June 1st, The Jewish Federation held its third Community Service Day of 2014. A diverse mix of volunteers representing all facets of our Jewish community generously gave a few hours of their time.  We were thrilled to have over 140 volunteers come out to our annual Gear Up for Camp Day, and another 30 help us at a picnic for families with special needs children.

Gear Up for Camp Day is our Federation’s single-biggest Community Service project of the year, and this year’s was the largest one ever.  We had over 1,600 campers and their families attend, which is about 300 more than last year! The event is an opportunity for volunteers to create a memorable day for underserved children, and their families, from all faiths and backgrounds and make sure they will be properly equipped for a five day session at Camp Max Straus in Glendale, the resident camp operated by our partner Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles.

This day would not be possible without this tremendous support from local businesses and individual sponsors who so generously donated their goods and resources to make this event a success. We are thankful to have had 17 sponsors this year, allowing us to give out even more products than past Gear Up for Camp Days. Each camper who attended received: a laundry bag, a 4-pack of socks, a hat, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle, washcloths, and books.  Plus, each camper will also be given a t-shirt and sweatshirt, which is their camp uniform, when they arrive at camp for their session this summer.  Attending family members received many items, including: “Danny First” apparel, t-shirts, pencil holders, “Shugar Soapworks” soap, O.P.I. nail polish and books. 

On top of handing out all these items, our amazing volunteers led games and activities with the kids, served lots of food and snacks, and made sure that everyone had a smile on their face. Mort, a volunteer who told us that he attended Camp Max Straus in 1947 and 1948, distributed hot dogs to eager campers.  In 1947, he attended a five day session, but in 1948, he informed that all campers were sent home after two days due to a polio outbreak.  It was especially meaningful that all these years later, Mort came out to give back as a volunteer. 

California State Senator Carol Liu, Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and Glendale City Councilmember Laura Friedman attended, and we were proud to show them the good work being done within their district. 

As families left at the end of the day, there was not a single person that did not stop to thank a volunteer or Federation staff person. This project is a true testament to the power of community.

Our other project was a picnic co-hosted by our partners HaMercaz and Valley Friendship Circle. This was a family event for children with special needs. Volunteers came out to help in a variety of ways: assisting the children in enjoying the universally accessible playground, arts and crafts, music, sports, therapy animals and much more.  

We hope you’ll make plans to join us at our next Community Service Day on August 3rd!  To be placed on our volunteer e-mail list, please fill out our short volunteer sign-up form. And don’t forget to check us out on Facebook!

Special thanks to our Sponsors below:


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