Teens giving back: Region’s youth to rally for day of service
For the first time, teens from the historic Central New Jersey community will join with their counterparts from the former MetroWest region in Whippany in a day-long blitz of good deeds called J-Serve.
Organizers are hoping for as many as 300 participants at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus on Sunday, April 6, when the event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
J-Serve — hosted locally by the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, the educational arm of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ — offers teens the chance to work with seniors, learn how to advocate against human trafficking, play sports with adults with special needs, or package food for the hungry.
Emily Schaerf, a 17-year-old from Livingston, is teen chair of the event; this is the fifth time she will be taking part.
“I first attended J-Serve as an eighth-grader, and I look forward to it each year,” she said. “It’s an incredible thing, seeing over 200 teens locally and knowing that teens all over the world come together for a common goal, to make a difference. I hope that every Jewish teen in the area takes part. It will be an eye-opening and life-changing day.”
Now in its ninth year, the International Day of Jewish Youth Service, as it is formally known, will involve around 10,000 Jewish teens from sixth through 12th grade in North America, Europe, and Israel. J‑Serve 2014 is the Jewish component of Youth Service America’s annual Global Youth Service Day and is a collaboration of BBYO and Repair the World.
“Participating in J-Serve is an opportunity for teens to take their commitment to camp, Jewish programming, and community service to a new level, by being a part of this huge event,” GMW area J-Serve coordinator Shaina Goldberg said.
This year, she said, youngsters from the Greater Newark Conservancy will be joining the Jewish teens, adding an element of broader community connection.
Lindsay Napchen, the youth and teen services director for the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains, had coordinated the service event — known there as Come ALIVE in the Community — in the historic Central region in the past.
“I hope to have 20 to 30 of my teens coming — and even more would be great,” she said. “Having such a large-scale event will hopefully show teens what a profound impact strength in numbers can have on the community.”
J-Serve is underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and is supported by a host of other Jewish community agencies.