Approximately 50 students from Richmond Jewish Day School and Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy distributed 1,000 brown bag lunches to the homeless and needy. (photo from Richmond Jewish Day School)
They huddled together to warm up on a frosty November morning, but the 50 Grade 6 and 7 students from Richmond Jewish Day School and Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy didn’t let the cold dampen their spirits. Their goal was to hand out warm clothing, blankets and 1,000 brown bag lunches to the homeless and destitute in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. With a long line of eager recipients, their effort was completed in less than an hour.
The food, sponsored by Save-On Foods Ironwood location in Richmond, included sandwiches made a day earlier by volunteers, juice boxes and yogurt. Store manager George Clarke said he was glad to supply the $4,000 worth of food. “This started last year when the schools approached us and wanted to bring random acts of kindness to the Downtown Eastside,” he said. “We’re happy to participate and I’m really pleased to see the project continue this year.”
“I learned there are a number of homeless people here,” said Askari Mehdi, a Grade 7 student at Az-Zahraa. “We’re just a small band of kids, but it’s nice to know we can make a difference.”
With the principals of both schools and members of the RCMP closely watching the interactions, the students actively interacted and distributed the food and clothing. “If our students were nervous, it melted away with the first kind word,” said Abba Brodt, principal at RJDS. “They were so excited to do a mitzvah…. We’re excited that they had the opportunity to work with their friends at Az-Zahraa again and bring more warmth and kindness into the world. You can’t teach this type of educational experience. You have to live it.”
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond, B.C. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net. This article was originally published by the Richmond Review.