Meet three of the Light’s 2013 Unsung Heroes

Rita Swiener

After hearing from a professor about a poor family that had fallen through the cracks of social support and wouldn’t be helped over the Christmas holiday, Rita Swiener was compelled to act. A Jewish woman, Swiener helped rally support among fellow members of a UM-St. Louis student group, which organized gifts for every member of the family needing help. Swiener would go on to found and direct Santa’s Helpers, a completely volunteer-run non-profit that provides thousands of gifts to children for Christmas and Hanukkah. Last year, the organization delivered approximately 26,000 gifts to more than 2,000 children and their families in the metro area.

Sandy  ‘Bozo’  Silverstein

Now 90, Sandy Silverstein has devoted more than 65 years to the St. Louis Boy Scouts of America (in a variety of roles, including scoutmaster of Temple Israel Boy Scout Troop 11 from 1942-1996, and as scoutmaster emeritus ever since). He has been a volunteer for more than a decade with Shriner’s Hospital for Children as a member of the Moolah Hospital Committee, which plans activities, entertainment and day trips for  patients and conducts hospital tours and other services whenever needed.

Beth Shalom Cemetery ad

Jan Baron

A longtime professional in the local nonprofit community, Jan Baron also has been one of the Jewish community’s most dedicated volunteers, serving in a variety of leadership roles in organizations including B’nai Amoona (where she teaches Sunday school students and serves as the congregation’s President), B’nai B’rith, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and the Burns Recovery Support Group.