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Despite COVID-19, "Christmas Mitzvah Project" continues holiday volunteer tradition

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Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 17:45:37-05

DENVER — This Christmas, JEWISHcolorado’s annual “Christmas Mitzvah Project” is adopting several changes due to the pandemic.

For the past 25 years, the project has mobilized dozens of volunteers to work at nonprofits and health care facilities throughout metro Denver, giving employees the day off.

“Our volunteers particularly like to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so that the workers at various sites and locations can have time off with their families,” said JEWISHcolorado Spokesperson Susan Chayet.

Last year, volunteers worked at 18 different sites. This year due to COVID-19 restrictions at healthcare facilities, there were just nine volunteer sites.

Those sites included Zuma’s Rescue Ranch, Colorado Pet Pantry, Food Bank of the Rockies, A Precious Child, Brookfield Fish, Project Angel Heart, Denver Health, Mount Saint Vincent and The Delores Project.

“Our volunteers really still wanted to be involved in giving back to the community,” Chayet said.

With less volunteer opportunities and 144 volunteers still willing to work, JEWISHcolorado got creative and found a way for volunteers to help from their own homes.

“Rather than gathering in-person as we can’t do, we’ve been able to assemble Christmas Mitzvah kits at home,” Chayet said.

The President of JEWISHcolroado, Rabbi Jay Strear, said volunteers assembled 2,450 care packages for front line workers and people in need in metro Denver.

“Our real objective is to lift up the community and to make people’s lives more celebratory, better, at such a critical time of the year,” Strear said.

Strear said the word “mitzvah” means “good deed,” and the organization hopes their good deeds help bring joy to the community.

“Regardless, I should say of ethnic makeup, racial makeup, religious belief, there is one humanity and that’s what binds us together,” Strear said.

Strear said despite the challenges of 2020, this year, more than ever, the Christmas Mitzvah Project was needed.