Volunteering in Israel

Yad Eliezer

Yad Eliezer is the largest anti-hunger agency in Israel, with an annual budget of over $12 million, funded by the donations of caring individuals.

Yad Eliezer began in 1980 in the kitchen of the Weisel family of Jerusalem. They prepared a food basket for a neighbor who could not feed her children, and were soon delivering monthly food baskets to hungry famililes. Yad Eliezer has now grown to encompass 13 economic and social service programs that impacts tens of thousands of individuals.

Yad Eliezer's cadre of 10,000 volunteers enables the organization to maintain limited overhead and administrative expenses. Indeed, 95% of funds raised go directly to needy families. This achievement has earned Yad Eliezer the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

Yad Eliezer has always maintained that poverty is about more than food. That is only one symptom among the layers of challenge that comprise "the cycle of poverty." Unemployment of the family breadwinner may result in children dropping out of school, out of fear of their peers' mockery or as a result of a home environment antithetical to study. Illness of one child may take precedence over feeding the others, leading to severe cases of undernourishment among children (especially babies). Parental abandonment or neglect leaves children emotionally and physically endangered, and may lead to criminal or socially dysfunctional behavior ― or at the very "least," despair.

Yad Eliezer's mandate is to help families cope with financial difficulties and to empower them to break through the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.

Our objective is to combat poverty at its root, with an array of programs that provide critical short-term relief, while facilitating long-term recovery. Each component of Yad Eliezer's comprehensive welfare system ― nationwide distribution of essential food, clothing and household items, job training, and adolescent mentoring programs ― contributes toward economic recovery and social development.

Yad Eliezer is not a "soup kitchen philosophy." We aim to normalize the family situation as much as possible, delivering food to the households themselves, where children can see their parents as providers.

Yad Eliezer is careful to confirm that recipients are in fact needy. We have a team in each neighborhood that verifies the condition of the family on a yearly basis. The information is entered into Yad Eliezer's computerized database to track the status of each recipient.

Our food programs include monthly food boxes which provide a large supply of food staples to families, hot delivered meals for the sick and elderly, holiday meals for families, baby formula for mothers who cannot nurse their infants, and a unique program whereby farmers donate annually over $2 million of surplus fresh fruits and vegetables to poor families.

Our social services network includes a Big Brothers/Sisters program for 3,200 young people who need guidance and love, an emergency fund for crisis situations, a wedding fund which caters thousands of wedding celebrations, and a job training program for the heads of low-income households.

Thanks to job training and other assistance, many families who were recipients of Yad Eliezer's food programs are now donors to Yad Eliezer.

What is Yad Eliezer's vision for the future? We have outgrown our current warehouse facilities and urgently require a larger space. The cost of building a food distribution center is $7.5 million. Yad Eliezer already has commitments from donors for $1.6 million and is now seeking contributions to cover the remaining funds necessary to create this exceptional multi-service center.

As the government safety net continues to shrink, and the ranks of the poor continue to swell, the number of families turning to Yad Eliezer increases with each passing day. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, one-third of Israel's children now live below the poverty line.

And through it all, Yad Eliezer continues to innovate programs to alleviate hunger, and give each Israeli the dignity and self-reliance they deserve. As Yad Eliezer's executive director, Dov Weisel, says: "Each month is its own miracle."

And it is all made possible through the donations of caring individuals around the world.

For more information: http://www.yadeliezer.org/site/home.php

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