“When I walked into the Home for the Handicapped last week, I was shocked,” admits Boys Town Jerusalem 10th grader Ariel Gurfinkel. “It was my first experience in volunteering, and the first time I’d ever interacted with handicapped persons. Now I can’t wait till our next visit!” For Ariel and his fellow classmates, the door to a lifetime of volunteering has opened with a smile.

“Once we started talking with the residents, they were happy to answer our questions about their childhood, where they came from, and more,” he reported. “Together we made fruit salad and potted new plants for everyone, and the time flew. It’s an amazing feeling to give a part of yourself to others!”

The excitement of launching this year’s record-wide volunteering program, complete with posters and videos, has swept BTJ students at all levels. “When the tenth graders returned from the Home for the Handicapped, they were greeted with chocolate bars from the seventh graders,” explained Avichai Charizi, BTJ’s new Director of Volunteering. “And the circle continues: the tenth graders voluntarily tutor the seventh graders. There’s a lot of pride here!”

Every student can choose where to give of himself, Charizi notes. “Our boys can commit to volunteering regularly in hospitals, with handicapped children and adults, at the Fire Department, Magen David Adom, and other citywide institutions. Or, they can take on important tasks on campus, such as maintaining Tablets, organizing projects, helping with repairs and maintenance, and, of course, tutoring younger students. Every effort is worthwhile, appreciated, and praiseworthy.”

This year’s commitment for some 20 students to volunteer at the Gilo Home for the Handicapped is a first for Boys Town Jerusalem students. “I myself began volunteering there several years ago,” admits 24-year-old Charizi. “I’m happy to share with BTJ students the life-changing habit of volunteering. For the many boys here who face personal hardships, giving to those in need is an especially powerful experience. Everyone gains.”

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