To rousing music and a standing ovation from students, five wheelchair-bound residents of a Jerusalem-based Home for the Handicapped made a recent emotional entrance to Boys Town Jerusalem’s Kaswell Auditorium.

Speaking to a schoolwide Salute to BTJ Volunteers and later in small student groups, the special guests shared details of their interaction with BTJ students throughout the year – and personally invited new volunteers for the future. The students then touched their guests’ hearts by presenting personal Certificates of Honor declaring, “Thank you for the privilege to learn from you.”

Record breaking results from the revamped volunteer program

The secret to volunteering is that you always get back more than you give,” shared Avichai Charizi, director of BTJ’s community service program, as he acknowledged the efforts of hundreds of high school students in a record-breaking range of community endeavors over the 2021-2 schoolyear. The tribute kicked off a first-time “Happening” to introduce and encourage younger BTJ students to join the many volunteering opportunities available for the coming schoolyear.

Volunteering inspires the students

“I’m on the BTJ team that volunteers with S.A.H.I. Organization, where we distribute food to the needy,” tenth-grader Yaakov Ben Chamo told the ninth-graders. “Once a week, we spend eight hours sorting and packing food items that we deliver anonymously to families, to respect their pride. It’s incredibly rewarding work.” Hillel Neuhaus, a BTJ Information and Communications Technology major, devotes countless after-school hours as a volunteer firefighter trained to save lives. “I’m now hoping to become a professional firefighter,” he adds.

Everyone wins when you volunteer

Other volunteering efforts span a broad gamut from helping victims of terror to tutoring younger pupils to visiting
hospital patients, and much, much more. But who are the real winners? “After a full year of the intensified volunteering program, we’re seeing how it has transformed the volunteers themselves,” declares Avichai Charizi, who has spearheaded the effort. “Both their grades and behavior have clearly improved. When you help others, you find ways to help yourself.”

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