SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The concept of “tzedakah” or charity is a core component in the JCC’s Brody Family Early Learning Center curriculum. Each year in preparation for the holiday season, the children and teachers at the JCC’s preschool undertake a “Thanks-for-Giving” project to help the community.  This year the Brody Family Early Learning Center is partnering with the Mandy Reichman Feeding Program.

The Mandy Reichman Feeding Program was established in 2002 in memory of Mandy Reichman who died in September 2001 at 22 after losing a two-year battle with cancer.  Mandy’s dying wish was to establish a program to feed the needy and hungry.  It was Mandy’s and her brother Jeffrey’s longstanding idea to start a feeding program in their local community. Each week, this program donates hundreds of lunches as well as provides holiday meals for those in need.  Lunches are assembled at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield every Tuesday.

The JCC’s Brody Family Early Learning Center collected food and turkeys for Thanksgiving meals, but they are also collecting food for the Mandy Reichman Program’s weekly lunch distribution. The children took responsibility for stocking their shelves and used the food collection area for dramatic play.  Not only did donations keep rolling in, but the children and their families submitted “words of gratitude” that were hung on the wall making it even more of a special place for children to be before Thanksgiving. 

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“Hunger is a huge topic and a very difficult one for happy, nurtured children to understand,” said Randy Sosny-Handler, Early Childhood Learning Coordinator.  “I tried my best to create a very hands-on, experiential way for the students to begin grasping the concepts of giving, sharing and donating to those who have less.” 

“What wonderful learning activities as the children learn all about feeding the hungry and being thankful,” said Meryl Reichman, Mandy’s mother and co-founder of the Mandy Reichman Feeding Program.  “We are overwhelmed and brought to tears at how much the JCC is expanding our daughter Mandy's legacy and vision. We will be able to feed so many more hungry people because of your dedication and your very caring families.”

For more information about the JCC’s Early Childhood programs, contact Robin Brous, Early Childhood Director, at 908-889-8800 x204 or rbrous@jccnj.org

The JCC of Central New Jersey is located at 1391 Martine Avenue in Scotch Plains. The JCC of Central New Jersey is a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metro West NJ, United Way of Greater Union County and the Westfield United Fund. Financial assistance is available for membership and various programs.