Settling into the new year and assessing the one just passed, Andrew Frank, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, declared the organization’s Dec. 2 Super Sunday a success.
The phonathon brought in $130,000, with “still more coming in the mail,” Frank said. It was less than the previous year’s fund-raiser but better than expected. Frank said, “Given the economic climate, and the fact that people were recovering from dealing with Superstorm Sandy, and with Israel’s conflict with Gaza, we were very pleased with that result, and very appreciative of the response from our donors.”
Due to scheduling problems, the date for the annual event had to be brought forward, and the location had to be changed to Rider University in Lawrenceville because Sandy had damaged the one they had originally planned to use. Despite those changes, about 40 adult volunteers and 20 teenagers worked the phones, doing their best to get the word out about the federation’s good works in the local community, in Israel, and in other Jewish communities abroad.
Caller ID is the bugbear of all such efforts, and the reliance on cellphones makes it harder to reach people on home phones, Frank said, but they still had a number of gratifying responses. He said, “Overall, the people we did get through to were very, very receptive.”
Linda Cohen of Fort Washington, Pa., worked with the PMB federation for 10 years. As the associate director, she helped plan and institute many aspects of Super Sunday. Since leaving three years ago, she has served as a volunteer, working closely with the present staff.
She said she has found it “heartwarming” to see so many of the volunteers come back year after year, and even more so this time.
“I’ve been involved now for a total of 13 years, and youngsters who started coming at a young age are now sitting and making calls along with their parents,” she said. “This past Super Sunday, there was an increased urgency for callers to connect with donors. Because we had just seen a crisis in Israel, devastation from Hurricane Sandy, and growing local needs, I had a feeling that every call was more important than ever as callers received the pledges.”
She added, “Though the location and the number of volunteers has changed, the purpose for the Super Sunday fund-raiser hasn’t, namely raising crucial dollars for sorely needed services and increasing awareness of what federation is all about.”
Another veteran supporter — though he is only 17 — is Josh Levy of Plainsboro. He told NJJN that volunteering for the federation — which he has been doing for about nine years — “was one of my foundations of making a difference in the world.” The high school senior said he used to help out at Super Sunday with his parents, Kurt and Mona Levy, and when he was young he collected pledge cards from the callers. But now, he said, “I am training others on the phone and raising over $12,000 for the federation.”
Josh, who attends the Rimon Center for Jewish Learning in East Windsor, said, “My goal in life is, was, and always will be to make a difference in my local community and the world.”
He added that he hopes “to see everyone next year at the Jewish federation Super Sunday phonathon and keep making a difference!”