During the fall of 2019, student-athletes at Thomas Jefferson University participated in the NCAA Team Works and Helper Hand Challenge, a community service mission that tracks students’ volunteer service hours. They logged a total of 3,583 hours.

The school’s baseball team topped the list in the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference, with 1,500 total hours and an average of 32 hours per player. The team participated in the Erving Youth Baseball Experience, hosted by NBA players and former 76er Julius Erving in partnership with the Salvation Army.

Other highlights included a charity golf outing, an event for the Special Olympics, and the Women’s Soccer vs. Cancer game.

Helping hands make lots of hats

Members of Hearts & Hands Crafters @ Suburban Community Hospital have knit more than 175 hats and scarves for students at Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown.
Courtesy of Hearts & Hands Crafters
Members of Hearts & Hands Crafters @ Suburban Community Hospital have knit more than 175 hats and scarves for students at Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown.

Students at Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown will have been a little warmer this season thanks to new hats and scarves made by the Hearts & Hands Crafters @ Suburban Community Hospital.

The group of about a dozen regulars meet at the hospital year-round to knit the apparel out of colorful, washable acrylic yarns. They’ve been creating the items for Gotwals for the last four years. This year, they’ve donated 175 hats, which take between two and three hours to knit, and about 90 scarf-and-hat sets to the kids.

“We donate the yarn, we donate our time,” said group spokesperson Barbara Makar. “We work on them together, we work on them individually.”

This year the group also donated 25 hats to the branch of Fox Chase Cancer Center that’s located at Suburban Community Hospital, said Makar.

N.J. Jewish communities embrace inclusion and belonging

On Feb. 8, Chabad Lubavitch of Camden County hosted a special shabbat at their synagogue for the Jewish community of Cherry Hill. It focused on creating a welcoming space for those with mental illness and disabilities to enjoy the traditional weekly day of prayer and rest.

Called ShabbaTTogether, the program featured a sermon on the challenges faced by those with disabilities in religious settings or during holiday programs, and a discussion on practical ways to help all feel included. The program also offered, of course, a delicious meal.

The event was held in conjunction with the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative, an organization that helps Jewish communities create a welcoming, inclusive environments for those with disabilities and mental health conditions.

In their desire to “unite to create the beautiful tapestry that is our community,” attendees showed "how dedicated they truly are to making sure everyone is included,” said Rabbi Mendel Mangel, co-director at Chabad Lubavitch.

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