CORAL SPRINGS, FL- The day before Thanksgiving, Debbie Gober rushed across Coral Springs and other cities to deliver meals to Holocaust survivors who were going to spend the holiday on their own.
“I love them all,” said the 62-year-old Coral Springs mother of three, talking on the phone as she whizzed past drivers on her way to meet an 88-year-old survivor in Tamarac.
Since the start of the pandemic, Gober and a half-dozen other volunteers from Chabad of Coral Springs have driven hot meals and groceries every week to nearly 250 senior citizens in Coral Springs, Tamarac, and Margate who have been homebound, alone, and in need of food and other services.
The volunteers visit at least 20 survivors of Nazi atrocities.
On Thanksgiving, as many families enjoy smaller than usual gatherings due to Covid-19, many of the survivors who are in their 80s and 90s (and a few older than 100) are going to stay in their homes, away from their children, grandchildren, and other loved ones – some without the ability to cook.
That’s why Gober hurried Wednesday to deliver meals of turkey, green beans, and mashed potatoes before the start of the holiday.
But she said bringing food isn’t the only reason for showing up.
“They need to see people who care for them and love them,” she said. “They are isolated right now. They miss the comradery of being with their family and friends.”
So Gober fills in, as much as she can.
A physical therapist by trade, she often hangs around to talk to the survivors after handing them the food. They talk about their families and their lives, but they don’t revisit the survivors’ dark memories of their young lives in Europe.
Gober has visited many survivors for years, long before the pandemic. She used to deliver Publix gift cards donated by Jewish support agencies. The cards are now mailed to the survivors directly.
One of her regular visitors is an 88-year-old woman. She’s visited her for at least five years. They talk frequently on the phone and in-person in front of the woman’s home in Tamarac.
“She’s wonderful,” said Tanya, a survivor who didn’t want to give her last name out of fear for her security. “Every time she brings something, it’s delicious. She’s terrific. She’s like my daughter.”
Rabbi Avraham Friedman, the executive director of Chabad of Coral Springs, said volunteers like Gober help feed people who otherwise may not be able to get enough food. But he said they also bring joy to senior citizens who don’t have much human contact these days.
“Debbie is an extremely kind and giving person,” he said. “If there’s something to be done, Debbie will do it.”
For Gober, delivering food is an honor.
“They are so appreciative when I show up,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be able to do this.”
Chabad of Coral Springs is seeking donations to continue providing meals to senior citizens as well as distributing food to thousands of others during weekly drive-by events at the nonprofit organization at 3925 North University Drive in Coral Springs.
To donate, click here.
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