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Mishloach manot in a backpack

HOLYOKE – The Rachel’s Table Teen Board has partnered with the Holyoke Public Schools to provide string backpacks filled with nutritious food each Friday to homeless children that attend the public schools in Holyoke, and who have little or no access to food during the weekends.

Currently, the program serves 165 kids at a cost of approximately $4 a week for each backpack. The cost of the program for the school year is more than $20,000.

Members of Congregation Sons of Zion and Congregation Rodphey Sholom in Holyoke are being encouraged to bring food items with them to Purim Celebrations on the evening of March 23 or beforehand to be picked up by Rachel’s Table.

“Since Purim is approaching and matanot l’evyonim (gifts for the poor) is one of the commandments, Rachel’s Table suggests making donations to Rachel’s Table that would specifically and 100 percent go to this program,” said Debbie Rubenstein, executive director of Rachel’s Table. “Additionally, because mishloach manot (giving gift baskets of food) is another commandment for Purim, one could make their mishloach manot a bag or string backpack filled with food for one of these children and bring it to synagogue during the megillah reading.”

“Once this hands-on effort came to my attention, I felt moved to offer assistance,” said Steve Levine, president of Sons of Zion. “Members of the two Holyoke synagogues have embraced this program and have made food donations during Purim and cash donations to Rachel’s Table. This has been a wonderful collaborative effort.”

Food items needed for the backpacks are individually packed items such as:

  •   Tuna cans or packets
  •  High protein soups
  •  Beef Ravioli or Spaghetti and meatballs in cans
  •  Individual Mac and Cheese packages such as Easy Mac
  •  Peanut butter or cheese and cracker packets
  •  Small boxes of cereal or packets of oatmeal
  •  Fruit cups
  •  Chocolate milk boxes
  •  Other canned meals such as chili, meat, chicken, etc.

(No expired food items, glass containers or family size boxes; i.e. no pasta boxes or tomato sauce.)

To donate to this program, please identify donations in the check memo for the “Backpack Program” and send them to Rachel’s Table, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield MA  01108. For more information, call (413) 733-9165.

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