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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yonit Omansky, bat mitzvah from East Brunswick, NJ carries on Bears from Bergenfield into a new future!

What do you get when you put together drive, determination and doobis? You get one bat mitzvah girl, Yonit Omansky, from Jersey, and 250 stuffed toys donated in just 250 days for Emunah children’s home in Pardes Chana.

How did this happen?

Do we have a story for you!

Yonit Omansky was assigned the bat mitzvah date of June 3, 2017. Her rabbi called her into his office and explained that it wasn’t just about the service and the party, that it also involved a mitzvah project. She understood that to mean, that the project had to have some meaning for her as well. She wanted to conduct a project that involved animals or stuffed animals and children in need of hugs.

She began to research with gusto.

Her exploration on the web led her to Mitzvah Market. On one of the pages of Mitzvah Market, she noticed a list of possible mitzvah projects that were recommended by them. My charity project, Bears from Bergenfield, or affectionately called Claire’s bears, was among those listed involving stuffed animals and children who were in need of hugs.

Her mother phoned Bears from Bergenfield and a shidduch was made.

One day, shortly afterwards, the mother, Roxana called and asked how many toys did each place require in Israel, since they wanted to visit three places.  explained to her that each place that I had visited this past year required a minimum of 120-150 toys. There were that many children in need of care per place and each child must receive a toy.

I heard a rush of air. Roxana assumed that they could collect much less, 250-300 tops and be done with the project. Now it looked like, they would need to collect closer to 500 toys.

Next, she checked the calendar. It was at the midsummer point of 2016. How much time would they need to collect this amount of toys? She was thinking 500 toys, I was thinking 250-300 toys. I replied that she better start collecting immediately!

Yonit and her mother instantly, and furiously collected stuffed toys. They were interviewed for the shul’s news and asked for donations in that article. They knocked on neighbors’ doors. They put up collection signs in their local supermarkets and neighborhood stores. They set up drop off boxes in their local library.

By mid Feb., Roxana was on the phone again and felt proud that Yonit had collected over 200 usable toys at that point. Yonit had a request. She wanted to meet with me and share her joy and success.

I agreed.

As we sipped our coffee together at Lazy Bean, Roxana, indicated exactly where Yonit wanted the toys donated. She refused to do a drop off and run. She wanted to meet with the child care workers who worked there with and for the children. She wanted to meet the children who would be receiving the toys. It had to meet her criteria!

I thought of Emunah. I had befriended Shlomo Kessel, the international director, years ago, when my daughter Sarah was twinned at her bat mitzvah with a girl in one of their children homes. I had traveled to meet him and visit his various sites throughout the years. I was hoping that Roxana would be accommodated at another Emunah location that might even be new to me. She was.

Debbie Siman—Tov, director of tours, was assigned to secure the details and put the visit into place. The toys will be dropped off in mid July. Plenty of pictures to follow!

As all of the pieces fell into place, I could only smile. My doobi donations and distribution work was being continued and carried on by the younger generation.

Yonit proved that her drive, determination and the collecting of donated stuffed doobis would work to satisfy the requirements of the bat mitzvah project at her shul. Thank you so bear-y much Yonit and Roxana!

Bears from Bergenfield was founded Sept. 2002 by Sam Goldstein, then 10, and his mom, Claire. It’s first delivery of toys was presented to Israeli children via BCHSJS students led by Fred Nagler, Dec. 2002. We have successfully collected and redistributed 175, 250 donated slightly used much loved stuffed toys to date. For further information, contact Claire’s bears at [email protected] Thank you so beary much!