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Hanukkah and Children's Issues Program Bank

Programs for Religious Schools and Youth Groups 
 
For High School and College Students: Participate in SPROUT and SHOUT  
Through the Student Health OUTreach project (SHOUT) and the Student Poverty Reduction OUTreach program (SPROUT), two student-run programs of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), high school and college students partner with community-based organizations to reach out and enroll all eligible children in federal health-insurance programs and other poverty reduction programs. Information on both projects is available here. 
 
Organize a War Toy Trade-in to Help Child Soldiers through the War Is Not a Game Campaign  
Over 300,000 children around the world are being used as soldiers in conflicts around the world. Among many reasons, armies recruit or force children to fight because children may be viewed as more expendable, children will follow orders more readily than adults, children are more trusting and more easily manipulated and children cost less to maintain. 
 
Information on war affected children and the War Is Not a Game Campaign is here. (Look under “Children and War” and “Projects.”) 
 
Programs for Congregations 
 
Sponsor An ‘Operation Crib’  
Partner with a local battered women’s shelter or homeless shelter to get a ‘wish list’ of needed baby items. Place a crib in the synagogue lobby in which congregants can place their donations. Also, you may want to place a tzedakah box alongside the crib for monetary donations for larger items. 
 
Partner with a Local School  
Create a synagogue partnership with a local public school. There are many ways to become involved, including coordinating donations of needed goods, creating a tutoring corps, volunteering in classrooms and organizing or sponsoring school events. The CSA Guide: “For the Sake of the Children: A Synagogue Guide to Public School Partnerships” has many helpful suggestions for setting up a partnership program and for involving a broad spectrum of the congregational community in this important work. It also includes descriptions of congregations who have successful partnership programs. 
 
Volunteer to Tutor at a Local School or Library  
Check with your local public schools, libraries and community centers for volunteer opportunities, or visit the website of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy. 
 
Host a Carnival or Day Camp for Kids in the Community

For an example of a carnival hosted by a congregation follow Temple Beth-El’s of Great Neck, NY lead. They host a “Mitzvah Day Carnival” in which volunteers from the congregation provide suitable activities such as crafts and games for children between the ages of three and twelve who have special needs. These kids include children with cancer, Down’s Syndrome, children of recent immigrants, and other children for whom the Carnival is a most welcome diversion. Half the Carnival volunteers are themselves between the ages of 12 and 16, and for most of them, the Carnival is an introduction to a world very different from their own. Additionally, through its work in preparing the Carnival together with the community agencies, the congregation has identified an array of needs that can then be translated into other Mitzvah Day projects. Types of activities can range from smaller games for younger kids such as painting faces and tossing rings, to larger activities such as inflatable races and outdoor pickup basketball games. A good way to raise money is by selling food that has been donated by congregants. As a way to introduce outside members of the community to Judaism, invite younger members of the congregation to also partake in the activities alongside the other kids
 
Join with the Children’s Defense Fund 

Become a Congregation to Leave No Child Behind  
This Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) campaign seeks “to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.” Participating congregations pledge to annually educate about the needs and concerns of children, directly serve in outreach efforts such as after-school programs, practice spiritual disciplines, such as participating in a National Observance of Children's Sabbaths, to sustain long-term participation in the Leave No Child Behind Movement, and advocate for systematic change. In addition to a certificate of commitment, participating congregations receive resources from CDF, email updates and access to a bulletin board discussion for participating congregations. More information on this program.