The youngest children at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange have learned the lesson of providing hands-on help to repair the world of those in need.
Tots at the temple’s Iris Family Center for Early Childhood Development took up tools for Carol the Carpenter Bagels and Building, a Habitat for Humanity program initiated by preschool director Carol Paster.
Paster has been on the board of HFH Newark for five years as secretary and is a cochair of Women Build, the organization’s program for women who want to learn construction skills and make a difference by building homes and communities. She’s been volunteering for seven years and launched a “building day” for the temple.
Paster has brought her passion for HFH to the Iris center, which runs a program to educate students about construction from a Habitat perspective. The staff teach the youngsters about tzedaka and collect money to buy tools for HFH, which Paster “sells” to the children at her “store.”
Throughout April, they raised about $500 for tools to help build a wall of the house and donate to HFH Newark.
On April 19, Jason Ramsey, HFH Newark’s construction manager, and Kathryn Cassidy, volunteer coordinator and HFH crew chief, came to the center to help the children build a wall and sign their names on it.
During National Women Build Week, sponsored May 1-9 nationwide by Lowe’s hardware, the Women Build volunteers joined with Paster’s helpers, spreading the message of the importance of building community.
May 5 was the big day. It began with a morning at the Iris center to expose all the children and their families to Habitat’s mission while using tools and wood to create their own artwork. The three-year-olds provided the “bagels” part of the Carol the Carpenter Bagels and Building program, serving breakfast to the work crew — 45 four-year-olds — who then went off to Newark to help out at the HFH site, bringing along the tools they purchased.
Upon entering the HFH house, the children found their wall installed. Parents were there to watch their children wield their tools and sing “Building a Better World.”
Debbie Ottner of South Orange, Ben’s mother, said the HFH project was “a wonderful thing for the kids to see up close.”
“It was so gratifying to be able to have my sons participate in such a worthy project,” said Liz Kravitz of Maplewood, mother of Sammy and Max. “There is no better education than hands-on participation in such a worthy cause. We thank the preschool and temple for planning this meaningful event.”