Rachel Friedman, B’nai Amoona

Rachel Friedman

Wanting to make a difference in other people’s lives was Rachel’s goal for her bat mitzvah projects. Not only did she volunteer at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, but she also participated in their Hanukkah Helper program and made bracelets for the Circle of Hope organization.

Daughter of Diane and David Friedman of Chesterfield, Rachel spent the summer before her bat mitzvah filling bags with food for the less fortunate families that come to the food pantry.  “I felt like I had performed a mitzvah every time I left the Jewish Food Pantry,” she said.  “This experience made me realize how lucky I am to have food and personal care items every day. It is easy to take for granted the day-to-day items I have that not everyone is so fortunate to have,” Rachel added.

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Hanukkah Helper (previously known as Hanukkah Hugs / Adopt-a-Family) collects household items, winter clothing and toys for Jewish clients of the Food Pantry. The organization’s goal is to brighten the Hanukkah season for needy Jewish families.

Rachel donated $250 of her bat mitzvah money to purchase items for this cause. “I tried to get most of the items on the list,” said said. “I bought not only toys for children, but things we don’t normally think about, like winter clothes for men and women. I bought diapers, cleaning supplies, and everyday necessities like toothbrushes, toilet paper, and towels. I felt really good that I was helping all these families, and I’m sure they really enjoyed opening these presents, things they would not get otherwise.”

A student at Parkway West Middle School, Rachel and two friends made Circle of Hope bracelets to raise money for the fight against cancer.  “Having a grandmother that had cancer made it even more meaningful to make the bracelets,” she said.  “I know the money is going to a good cause.”  

Since 1999, proceeds from the Circle of Hope bracelets have been donated to cancer research, education, treatment and care.