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Eighteen steps to making a difference
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Eighteen steps to making a difference

Tzedaka Box: Focusing on young people and their mitzva projects

Name: Joshua Kai Schuman
Age: 13
Town: West Orange
School: Seventh grade, Golda Och Academy, West Orange
Parents: Dean and Li Schuman
Bar mitzva: Jan. 7, 2012
Synagogue: B’nai Shalom, West Orange
Mitzva project: 18 Random Acts of Kindness, performed within a 10-mile radius of West Orange during the year prior to the bar mitzva

How it came about: “I was brainstorming with my parents to come up with mitzva project ideas that do not put any responsibility on my guests,” said Josh. “Some of the acts were more challenging than others, but all were rewarding. I could not have accomplished my project without the guidance, encouragement, and shlepping of my parents.”

How it helped: “My project simply showed that any 12-year-old with limited means can help make a difference to others and grow from the experience. Utilizing my time and effort to make a difference was more meaningful than asking my guests to do part of the work for me.”

Inspiration: “I was able to ‘pay it forward’ to many parts of the community I grew up in. I chose to complete 18 Random Acts of Kindness — otherwise known as hesed — so I could really earn the title ‘Mitzva Man.’”

The 18 Random Acts:

3/13/11 — Assisted residents and guests at Purim Carnival of Daughters of Israel senior center in West Orange

4/13/11 — Helped pack Passover care packages for the needy at Oheb Shalom Food Pantry in South Orange

5/1/11 — Collected garbage along Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange (“Why not clean the road that takes me to school every day?”)

5/1/11 — Helped women take groceries to their cars at the ShopRite in West Orange

5/22/11 — Sold “poppies” to help veterans with Pop — grandfather Chuck Schuman, a member of the Sanford L. Kahn Jewish War Veterans Post # 538 of West Orange and Kearny — in front of the Bagel Box in West Orange

6/19/11 — Took part in the “Wet and Wild” B’nai Shalom USY fund-raiser carwash

6/21/11 — Cut neighbors’ shrubs, “the neighborly thing to do”

8/16/11 — Packed lunches and sorted toiletries for the needy at Bridges Outreach in Summit

8/23/11 — Baked 200 cookies for West Orange fire fighters

9/12/11 — Helped sort books “I read growing up” at West Orange Public Library

9/25/11 — Set up chairs for the High Holy Days at B’nai Shalom

10/16/11 — Took part in the Mayor’s Walk/Run to “Break the Silence” of Ovarian Cancer in West Orange, “a very worthy cause”

10/20/11 — Served residents of Chelsea at Montville assisted living facility during “happy hour”

11/5/11 — Helped with projects and prayers in the K-2 class of B’nai Shalom education director Rena Casser

11/18/11 — Fed parking meters in West Orange and Montclair to help consumers and merchants

12/4/11 — Ran pledges to fund-raisers at United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ Super Sunday phonathon

12/11/11 — Helped Jewish veterans run their monthly bingo game at NJ Veterans Memorial Home in Paramus

12/16/11 — Helped Rabbi Nathan Langer conduct kabalat Shabbat services at Village Apartments of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation in South Orange

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