Treat everyone with respect. Smile as much as possible. Make each day the best it can be.
These were only a few of the pledges made Tuesday on the Jewish Federation of Broward County’s wall dedicated to acts of kindness.
The wall was part of an all-day volunteer project tied to the Jewish holiday Purim, which commemorates a time more than 2,600 years ago when Queen Esther thwarted a plan to kill all Jews in Persia. The holiday begins at sundown Wednesday and ends Thursday night.
The idea was to pack traditional treat bags (mishloach manot) — with Hamantaschen (cookies) and candy — to deliver to the residents of Parkland and survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The bags also contained a message of support and information on mental health services available.
“We wanted to put these packages together to help the community in Parkland and Coral Springs understand that there is a broader community around the county that cares about them, that stands with them and that we will work to support them through this tragic time and into the future,” said federation President and CEO Michael Balaban.
The festive holiday is often celebrated with carnivals, giving gifts to the poor and reading the Megillah — the biblical Book of Esther.
Board member Debby Gober said the federation wanted to host an event where people felt they were actually doing something to help and bringing some sweetness into the community that has been through so much.
“People are thanking us for giving them something to do,” she said. “I just think everyone wanted something tangible they can do to help.”
The marathon day, which was broken up into shifts, saw dozens of volunteers from both counties packing over 5,000 bags, which will be distributed on Thursday to everyone in Parkland and Coral Springs affected by the tragedy.
Barbara Feller, of Coral Springs, whose 16-year-old son Alec attends Douglas, said this was something she could do with her son to help her own community.
“We are extremely lucky we are one of the very fortunate families, and anything and everything we have the ability to give back we are going to do it,” she said.