- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 25, 2002

The D.C. Jewish Community Center was bustling yesterday as dozens of volunteers wrapped gifts and cooked meals in preparation for their annual Christmas charity event.
"This is very much in keeping with Tikun Olam, the Jewish tradition of repairing the world," said William Kreisberg, president of center, in the 1500 block of 16th Street NW. "December 25th is a perfect day for us to do this. It's not a holiday for us, so we can go into the community and bring cheer to others."
Volunteers pointed out yesterday that many people do not work on Christmas but that not all of them celebrate the day as a religious holiday.
Mr. Kreisberg said that helping people on Christmas relieves the staffers at more than 40 D.C. social service agencies. He said it also gives Christmas meaning for people who rarely celebrate it in the traditional way.
While some volunteers rushed around the center's kitchen baking cakes and cooking dinners for soup kitchens and hospitals across the metropolitan area, others wrapped toys for children.
In another room, volunteers filled bags with bottles of perfume, hand lotion, bracelets and necklaces for women at the Washington Center for Aging Services.
"It's a lonely time of year for the elderly and the homeless who don't have family support," said Shara Ammen Nguyen, 33, who came from Triangle, Va.
Today marks the center's 16th annual day of service. Many of the donations came from area businesses, restaurants and food chains. The volunteers also gave $18 each.
More than 1,000 people volunteered this year, said 24-year-old Emily Alpert, an organizer for the center.
"That's the most we've ever had," she said.
Veronica Miranda, 31, of the District, was raised Catholic and thought volunteering would be a good way to help less-fortunate people.
"Especially in this day and age, with all the unrest since September 11 last year, it's nice to see people of different religions coming together and showing that it doesn't matter what religion you are or where you were raised," she said. "Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, it is a joy to have something to open in the morning."

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