Mitzvot from the heart: Blake Silverman

Blake Silverman loading goods for NCJW’s Back to School! Store.

Blake Silverman

Congregation Shaare Emeth

Blake loves to be helpful, especially when he is organizing and moving things. Volunteering with the National Council of Jewish Women’s Back to School! Store and the Jewish Muslim Day of Service gave him the opportunity to do just that. Son of Karen and Gary Silverman of Chesterfield, Blake has volunteered with both organizations since he was 9 years old. 

NCJW works closely with area agencies and schools to identify children in need. During the one-day Back to School! Store, each child is assigned an adult volunteer to help he or she shop for brand new clothing and supplies. In addition, community organizations offering services and information about child safety, nutrition, vision screening and health issues are part of the on-site family resource center for parents and guardians. If these students have the clothing they need, they are more likely to attend school, participate, and focus on learning.

A lot of work goes into getting the store ready for its big day. Blake’s mother has been one of its co-chairs for the past six years and he wanted to help her out. Since she is a teacher, the two of them took advantage of the winter and summer breaks to work on the project together. 


“I helped shop for, loaded and unload, the 1,000 puffy winter coats and school supplies on Black Friday of each year,“ said Blake. “I’d get them out of the car and into the storage area of NCJW, where they’d stay until we can unload and organize them at the actual store, later in the summer.” 

Prior to the store opening in July, Blake spent a few weeks helping NCJW organize and set up the clothing and school supply displays. He unwrapped erasers, boxes of markers, glue sticks, pencils, spiral notebooks and paper folders, and then transferred them to bigger boxes and baskets to be put out into the actual store. He also put hundreds of antibacterial gel bottles in plastic bags so they wouldn’t leak into the child’s shopping bags. 

On the day of the actual store this past summer, Blake was a “restocker.” He refilled the boxes of school supplies when the stock was low, moved boxes of supplies, and helped break down and recycle boxes yet again. By returning year after year, Blake has become close with some of the other kids that volunteer, the NCJW employees and others on the BTSS committee. He looks forward to seeing them and they look forward to his help each summer. Blake said, “I feel good about myself because I play a part in helping kids.”

It’s a Silverman family tradition to volunteer on Christmas day. They had already been volunteering with two of the social service agencies associated with the Jewish Muslim Day of Service before it began. His family liked the Five Star Senior Center because it was nice to deliver food to the clients’ doors. Blake even went so far as to shovel their walkways for them when it snowed.  

Most recently, Blake and his family volunteered at the Bridge Outreach shelter, where he helped prepare and serve Christmas lunch to over 100 clients at the downtown location. “I transferred hundreds of pieces of chicken from the baking sheet to the serving tray, and carried it to the buffet line, where we put it on people’s plates,” he said. “I liked helping people and seeing them happy to get a nice meal on Christmas. I talked to several of the people at the Bridge and realized that even though they are not living in circumstances like us, they can be happy too and they especially deserve to be happy on Christmas.” Blake found that most of the people were friendly and nice to talk with, sometimes with a good sense of humor, too. 

A student at Crestview Middle School, Blake plans to continue volunteering for the Back to School! Store and Jewish Muslim Day of Service for the next several years.