407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

During these strange and unique times, it’s easy to focus on the things that are now different than before. It’s easy to pay attention to what we no longer have the freedom to do, focusing on an uncertain future and when we will be back to our “new normal,” let alone what used to be normal. 

It’s times like this when I am grateful to be part of the team at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. Our mission is to address the needs of the Jewish community of Central Florida. And as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns began last month, we redoubled our efforts to focus on keeping our community leaders informed and connected. We also immediately shifted our communication and programming strategies to provide information online to the community about opportunities to engage in programs and events on a virtual basis.

We also made a commitment to do everything in our power, both on our own and working with community partners, to serve those in need during this crisis. To that end, we launched Food Cart from the Heart, a new Federation program that helps community members who cannot afford groceries or who cannot travel to pick up donated food.

One of our key partners in this endeavor is JFS Orlando. This week that partnership bore fruit, as Federation staff and volunteers made their first deliveries from the JFS Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry to people who were unable to travel there to pick up the food. We also purchased and delivered perishable items from the grocery store for other individuals. Our ability to purchase these items is funded completely by donations, and we are so grateful to the community members whose generosity is making this possible.

We got a call from one of the people to whom we provided food. She was crying during the call, saying how happy and grateful she was. She said her fridge was full for the first time in a long time. She expressed heartfelt gratitude to the community and the Federation for truly caring for others and finding ways to help despite the challenges of social distancing and widespread economic uncertainty. This is what Federation does – steps up to take care of and fill needs in our community.

This is your chance to make a difference. Donate to the Federation’s Food Cart from the Heart program to ensure that we can continue to provide for those in need. We don’t want anybody to go hungry, and your contributions will directly impact our friends and neighbors who are suffering through no fault of their own. Every dollar matters when it comes to buying and providing food.

We are thankful for our partnership with JFS that enables us to deliver food to those who can’t get there to pick it up. If you would like to volunteer to deliver JFS food packages, let us know.

It is often said that a crisis brings out the best in us, and your generosity during the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly proved that axiom to be true. Your Federation – and your community – are grateful.