Families volunteer to feed the hungry

By David A. Schwartz
Florida Jewish Journal
November 29, 2011

Some of South Palm Beach's neediest seniors received a kosher Thanksgiving meal a day early thanks to more than 90 families from the Woodfield Country Club and Woodfield Hunt Club communities.

This was the third year that residents of the two communities in West Boca Raton sorted dinners and enough canned and packaged food and fresh produce to last two weeks into bags and boxes at the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service's Forster Family Food Pantry.

"I want to thank your organization for what you're doing and I want to bless you all for being volunteers," Joseph Chazin, a 97-year-old resident of Century Village in West Boca Raton said as he invited Ruth Rales CEO Danielle Hartman and volunteers Michele Blair and her children Joshua, 9, and Morgan, 8, of Boca Raton into his home.

Chazin said he would be "in bad shape" without the food. He said although he cooks a little bit, making meals like French toast for breakfast, "I can't do much. I can't stand."

For Chazin, whose wife Edythe died 11 years ago, the days can be long. "To pass the day is not easy," he said. "You sit in that chair. It's hard to be alone."

Like many now elderly people in South Palm Beach, Chazin came to Boca Raton from New York 30 years ago. He cared for his wife for five years before she died 11 years ago.

"The majority of clients are home bound or lack transportation or don't drive anymore," said Hartman, of Ruth Rales. "We rely on community support for the holidays to make those times special. This gives them the opportunity to celebrate the holiday."

About 100 of the 550 individuals who get food each month from the Forster Family Food Pantry received the Thanksgiving delivery.

Volunteers — fathers, mothers and their children — began packing bags and boxes for delivery at 8:30 a.m. They finished two hours later.

"We wanted to have a community program for all ages," said Woodfield Country Club resident Susan Rahn, event co-chair with Larry Blair, who also is chairman of the Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service.

"This is also for the kids," said Blair's wife, Michele Blair. "There are not many opportunities for them to see that there really is a need in Boca."

"We want to help give back to the Boca Raton community, especially in these hard times," said first-year volunteer and Woodfield Country Club resident Bob Marton who was at the food pantry with wife Lisa, their son Ben, 12, and daughters Gabby, 14, and Emmy, 9.

Eric Wallberg, who lives at Woodfield Country Club, brought sons Jacob, 11, and Ryan, 8, to their second Woodfield Feeds the Hungry event. Wallberg said he wants his children to learn about feeding people who aren't as fortunate.

"The kids loved it last year," he said, explaining that his children met seniors and sat and talked. "They really don't want you to leave," Wallberg said. "It made a big impact on myself and the children."