At Super Sunday, helping out is a family affair

At Super Sunday, helping out is a family affair

Local teens came to lend a hand at last year’s Princeton Mercer Bucks Super Sunday.
Local teens came to lend a hand at last year’s Princeton Mercer Bucks Super Sunday.

Helping out is a multi-generational thing on Super Sunday. On Dec. 6, when United Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks holds its annual mega fund-raiser, the scores of adult volunteers will be joined by teenagers, preteens, and younger kids, all playing their part.

The event will take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Bank of America Hopewell Campus in Pennington.

Leading the charge at the banks of telephones will be the trio of cochairs, Emily Josephson of West Windsor, the federation’s vice president of community relations and allocations; Mark Merkovitz of Princeton, campaign vice president; and Stephanie Will of Skillman, Women’s Campaign chair.

The teens will step in for the afternoon session, starting at 1 p.m. Some have volunteered through their synagogue religious school programs or youth groups; others are members of the Jewish Community Youth Foundation. Either way, they come with a deep appreciation of hesed and tzedaka, acts of kindness and charity, said Ophir Busel.

Busel, the federation’s marketing and communications director, said those teen hours are one of the best aspects of a day full of high energy. “They get really excited about what they’re doing, and they bring so much passion to it,” she said.

For the first time, a special event for preteens will be offered. Two members of Young Judaea, Alex and Nate Costin of Princeton, will lead an afternoon discussion focusing on two topics: Jewish celebrities and Israeli soldiers — what one would think they need and what they actually have.

Linda Cohen, the federation’s associate executive director, said, “The nice thing is that if the preteens keep coming, they become the next group of teen callers. One of the teens who was making calls when I first started here 10 years ago is now an adult volunteer. That’s just the kind of connection we aim for.”

Every year, callers try to outdo the total achieved the year before. This year is no exception; organizers are determined to exceed the $200,000 raised at the 2008 event — despite the tough economic climate, and all the more because of it. The federation and its beneficiary agencies are facing growing requests for aid just as they are dealing with shrinking income.

While phoning donors takes center stage, there are plenty of other goings-on. The JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks is sponsoring an array of activities for children in the morning, and the youngsters will be also be able to help out, serving as runners, carrying pledge forms and paperwork. Others will be wrapping gifts for needy children for the LIGHTS (Love is Getting Hanukkah Toys to Share) program run by the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County.

Josephson’s family is a perfect example of the generational aspect of Super Sunday. She cut her teeth as a volunteer as a child in Pittsburgh, helping her father. Her own children, Isabel, 11, and Louis, eight, have followed in her footsteps and will do their part this Sunday, along with her and her husband, Seth, a vice president on the federation’s executive board. Last year, for the first time, to her great excitement, Isabel got to make a phone call to a donor.

“The kids started when they were about five, and they really enjoy it. It’s a happy day,” Josephson said. “It’s like sending them to the JCC for camp — it gives them that feeling that they’re part of a Jewish community, and doing things like this becomes a part of life, just what we do.”

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