The campaign of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey got off to a rousing start with the first Community Call Day of the year, bringing in about $100,000.
The April 3 event at the federation’s South River offices brings the total raised in the campaign, which began Jan. 1, to about $500,000 toward a $3.4 million goal.
“We are just kicking off the campaign,” said federation chief development officer Elena Herskowitz. “We’re very happy with the total.”
Additional call nights on April 11 and 14 to those not reached at home on the Sunday call day brought in another $100,000-plus.
Herskowitz said there would be another one or two community call days ahead of the Oct. 30 Super Sunday, the federation’s biggest fund-raising event of the year.
Call day cochair Jeffrey Schwartz of Monmouth Junction said federation was thinking strategically in this year’s fund-raising planning.
“Normally, we do most of our fund raising in the last quarter of the year,” said Schwartz, who also serves as federation first vice president. “A large percentage of our donors are repeat donors who give year after year — so why wait until the last quarter?”
By receiving their donations earlier, federation can more easily track progress toward its campaign goal; that way, he explained, “when people see we are well along toward our goal, it presents a more positive image and makes it easier to get people to give that last little bit.” Having a call day at this time of the year, added Schwartz, also gives federation and its volunteers “a nice opportunity to wish everyone a zissen Pesach and our hope that they had a good Purim.”
The event’s other cochair, Cheryl Markbreiter of Ocean Township, said that contributions raised go to a wide variety of organizations and resources that help the community locally and across the globe.
“We raise money for services provided to the community through Jewish Family Service, teen programs, and those that benefit seniors, and for others in Israel and overseas,” said Markbreiter, who is also board secretary.
Sam Sitt, executive director of the Deal Sephardic Network, came to the fund-raising event with two of the organization’s youth group leaders to make calls. The DSN facility, which receives federation funding for its teen programs, serves young people and adults through social, cultural, and recreational programs, while “promoting the important values of community and leadership,” said Sitt.
Volunteering on Community Call Day, he said, is “our way of giving back to federation…. It’s a great education for our teens in the circle of Jewish life. You get and then you give back to others.”
His daughter, Judy, 14, the youth group’s incoming president, said she wanted to help because “the federation gives to many organizations, including us.”
Current president Harry Franco, 16, said the funding helps provide the DSN teens with a number of sports and social programs “to keep Jewish teens together.”
Ann Gold, a resident of one of Monroe’s adult communities, said during a pause in making calls, “People who have must give to others who don’t.”
“That is what federation is all about — helping each other,” she said. “People in need of help know they can come to federation.”