ALBANY, N.Y. — For several years, the families of the Early
Childhood Center at the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center have
participated in Mitzvah — good deeds or acts of kindness.
Recently, Phyllis Frisch, the curriculum specialist at the
JCC, saw a report on ABC detailing how children in homeless shelters often do
not have birthday parties. As both a parent and teacher she was deeply moved by
this. She asked if she could create a mitzvah project to help bring birthday
parties to children in shelters.
The Birthday Bag Project was timed to coordinate with the
celebration of Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the “birthday of
the trees” in Israel. Each classroom picked two birthday party themes. Families
in each class were asked to donate items needed to throw a birthday party:
invitations, plates, cups, decorations, cake mix, cake pans, frosting, and
The response was amazing.
Originally Phyllis thought that she would have two bags from
each of the 17 classrooms or 34 bags. She was delighted with the generosity of
all of the families and staff. The final count was 74 bags — more than twice
the original estimate.
When Phyllis contacted Angie at the Food Pantries for the
Capital District, the organization that will distribute the bags, Angie was
overwhelmed. She said that “no one has ever donated that many bags before.”
The JCC is now looking forward to repeating the Birthday Bag
Mitzvah Project next year with an even higher goal.