Teens volunteering at the San Antonio Food Bank helped build food boxes to be distributed to needy families.
It’s Sunday morning at 8:15am when the first one shows up. They trickle in, but a herd shows up shortly before the 9am starting time. Judging by the excitement and build-up in the lobby, you’d think these teens were here to buy tickets to a concert, but they’re not. In fact, they are eager to sign up for the service site of their choice for J-Serve.
J-Serve is an annual day of community service by Jewish teens. It’s a national event, with the JCC serving as the local coordinator for San Antonio. With the participation and assistance of the religious schools at Temple Beth-El and Congregation Agudas Achim, plus participation from youth groups like BBYO and B’nai Tzedek, the event is attended by teens from across the Jewish community.
This year, more than 120 teens had the opportunity to select from projects at six local agencies: the ARC, Fisher House, Jewish Family Service, the San Antonio Food Bank, the Texas State Senior Games of Antonio Senior and St. PJs.
I had the special opportunity to visit these teens at multiple sites and see firsthand both the wonderful impact our teens were having on the agencies and the effect the work was having on them.
I tried to pass on to the teens that tasks that may appear to be menial not only need to be done, but can also have a large impact. Decorating a staff lounge may seem trivial, but if it helps boost the morale of that organization’s staff and helps to enable them to perform better, it’s VERY important. Spending an afternoon playing with children who have been removed from their families may seem inconsequential, but if it makes the week go by just a little faster, it’s important. Performing household chores at a home-away-from-home for service members undergoing medical treatment may seem menial, but if it makes their day-to-day life a little more bearable, it’s crucial.
The importance of being involved in the community and giving back was a message the teens received throughout the day. And judging by the numbers of teens who attended - and how early they showed up - I think they not only heard it, but lived it in a big way!