By Stacey Dresner
AMHERST – On Sunday, Oct 6, 350 registered participants gathered in Amherst for UMass Hillel’s seventh annual Ride to Provide. This was a new record for the Ride, with 100 more people participating than last year.
The Ride to Provide, founded by Rabbi Saul Perlmutter, the director of UMass Hillel, raises money in support of Hillel’s community service programs and green projects. With the money raised, several hundred UMass students have been able to travel to Israel and other countries to participate in needed community service projects.
Ride participants signed up as individuals or as part of teams of five or more. Some 20 teams – up from 12 teams last year – from local synagogues, student groups, and day schools took part, as well as organizations from New Hampshire, Worcester, and Boston. Funds raised by teams are split 50/50 between the teams and UMass Hillel.
The Ride, which also included a 5K Stride (choice of walk or run) and a community fair, generated $65,500, another record set by this year’s Ride, with contributions still arriving.
Before the Ride, UMass student Michelle Mandeau talked about how the Ride to Provide enabled her to participate in both an alternative spring break (ASB) trip to Israel and a Jewish Farm School in the Pioneer Valley.
“When I received the e-mail from the UMass Hillel regarding the ASB trip, I knew right away that I wanted to go. As a Sustainable Food and Farming major, I am always looking for an excuse to go outside and get my hands dirty; when it involves bettering a community, it’s even more of a reason. We spent the majority of the time cleaning up and improving community gardens and nature preserves, as well as getting to know the cultural aspects of Israel,” she said. “One of the best perks of the trip was that I was able to go for free. With a subsidy from Hillel and many generous donations from members of my synagogue, Temple Emmanuel in Newton, MA, I was able to exceed the fundraising goal of $1,700, which permitted me to go on this unbelievable journey…I had never really been involved with Hillel, but, through this trip, I was able to meet other Jews on campus and participate in programs such as the Jewish Farm School.”
Heritage Academy board member and participant Brian Weinberg said, “…for all of those who participated it was a great event – rewarding – exhilarating – fun!!!” “We raised a lot of money and had fun, even though it was raining,” said Liora Kaplan, grade 3, who rode nine miles with her dad, Scott, while mom and younger sister Eden walked.