When your phone rings Nov. 22 during Super Sunday, don’t be surprised if it’s Keith Zimmerman on the other end, cheerfully explaining the importance of making a contribution to the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.
“I really enjoy doing it because it gives me the opportunity to thank people and let them know despite the bad economy we are still around to help,” said the Kendall Park resident. “I like the challenge of trying to get people to increase their gift. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Zimmerman, a federation vice president and campaign cochair, has solicited funds for at least 10 years. He is well aware of how much good every dollar does for Jewish communities locally and around the world.
“I have a certain amount in mind when I ask them, and I reference what their additional gift will do,” he explained. “For instance, if I ask for an extra $100, I tell them that will help feed hot meals to two seniors who don’t have the ability to get out of the house and get food for themselves.”
Last year’s annual phonathon fund-raiser at the federation’s South River offices brought in $586,160 — roughly on par with the previous year — despite the gloomy economic picture. The total represents about 25 percent of federation’s annual intake, making community support all the more vital as financial instability continues to affect individuals and institutions.
Funds are earmarked through partner agencies for such necessities as helping provide poor, elderly Eastern European Jews with food and medical assistance and assisting in the rescue and resettlement of Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Federation monies in Israel fund a variety of educational and social service endeavors.
Locally, a donation to federation benefits day schools, synagogues, the Jewish Family & Vocational Service of Middlesex County, senior services, Rutgers Hillel, and other vital needs.
With the downturn in the economy and dismal job market, Zimmerman said, he realizes not everyone may be able to increase their pledge, but he hopes everyone keeps in mind there are some who depend on federation.
“A lot of people’s portfolios are down, and I would be happy if those people could at least keep their pledge at what it was last year,” he said.