- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 20, 2005

About 25 children and teenagers at Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase spent yesterday afternoon sorting and boxing food, toys and blankets for Gulf Coast residents who lost everything during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The charity drive was organized by members of the Jewish children’s organization Young Judaea as a way of helping hurricane victims during the holidays.

“I think the hurricane has really fallen out of in front of everyone’s mind and, especially with the upcoming holiday, there’s such an important need,” said Jamie Maxner, 24, who lives in Atlanta.

Last night, she drove the truck to the South. The yellow Ryder truck was one of four such vehicles sent out by Young Judaea to gather items at synagogues across the East Coast, Miss Maxner said.

A stop at Temple Shalom was one of the last before the trucks meet today in Jackson, Miss., where they will turn over the goods to the United Way for distribution, she said.

The idea for the drive developed when high school students in Young Judaea’s leadership were looking for a project for the last half of the year. After the hurricanes hit, members decided the best thing they could do was wait for the hurricane victims to slip out of the limelight, then jump in and help where they were needed most.

“I have a friend that lived in Metairie [La.] who had to leave her home because of the hurricane,” said Reuban Karchem, 16, a student at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School and co-organizer of the drive.

“Right after the hurricane, she said that everyone is helping now, but no one is going to help in three months. That’s one of the reasons to help now.”

The goods were donated by temple members and local families.

Organizers expected that the group easily would fill the 16-foot truck by 5 p.m. After it was loaded, the truck was scheduled to head for Pennsylvania to pick up some overflow goods from another truck and then spend all night on the road.

Tali Preuss, 9, an elementary school student from Potomac, said she was helping the Katrina victims because she would want them to do the same for her.

“They don’t have homes; they lost everything in the floods,” she said. “I really want them to have stuff. I would want toys and books and something to sleep in and food.”

Young Judaea was formed in 1909 as a Zionist youth movement. Sponsored by Hadassah, the largest Jewish membership organization in the United States, the organization is largely peer-led and focuses on teaching Jewish traditions and culture to its members. The organization has about 6,000 members ages 8 to 18 across the nation from a variety of Jewish denominations.

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