The Mitzvah Circle Foundation helps people who are falling through the cracks between other government assistance and philanthropic organizations. For example, Mitzvah Circle offers assistance to the homeless, has an extensive diaper bank (for both infants and adults), provides school supplies, and hats for the homeless. But what makes Mitzvah Circle stand out are the values that the organization lives.
The Hebrew word Mitzvah is often misunderstood as a good deed. (Although the Yiddish word Mitzveh does in fact mean good deed.) A Mitzvah is actually a commandment from God. Scholars have identified 613 commandments in the Torah, which together provide a guideline for how we are to live our life. Today, it is far too easy to get caught up in thinking of the Commandments as either something huge (like do not kill) or something that only the most observant Jews would follow, like keeping Kosher or not not turning on a light on Shabbat.
In between however, are many commandments about how to treat others with dignity, respect, and kindness. Those are the commandments embodied by Mitzvah Circle. Founder Fran Held explained to me that the Mitzvah Circle is a community, that encompases donors, volunteers and the people that they serve.
While other organizations put together generic boxes of assistance, Mitzvah Circle asks what is needed. “We treat the people we serve like family,” Held explained. “Every individual or family is assigned a volunteer, who packs a box specifically for them every week, and then drops the box at their door.” The volunteers get to know their families personally, and each week tries to add one item just for fun to the box of assistance. Every day of the week, boxes are delivered to people who live in the Greater Philadelphia Area, and shipped to people across the United States.
The people we serve dream of things that most of us take for granted, like socks and clean underwear.” – Fran Held, Founder and Executive Director
The Soul Trait Honor teaches us to honor the divine spark in everyone. Said Held, “Each person has an opportunity to be a light in the darkness.” Volunteers come and do what they can. For some people that is donating money and goods, for others it is donating their time. But everyone supports each other with kindness and respect.
People were silently suffering in every community. Some without resources, some without the the social connectedness to get through their dark time. – Fran Held
The Mitzvah Circle is like a shamash candle that helps kindle the Divine spark in all of us to shine more brightly. If you would like to support their work, you can donate here.