Mitzvah Day draws hundreds for Palo Alto service projects

Nearly 800 people — the largest turnout ever — volunteered Jan. 16 for Mitzvah Day in Palo Alto.

The event, organized by the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto and co-sponsored by local congregations, Jewish day schools and Hillel at Stanford, sent participants to a number of sites for community service projects.

Volunteers put together fruit trays to serve at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. photo/courtesy of oshman family jcc

Among the activities, volunteers picked 546 pounds of fruit from local home gardens and delivered the produce to food banks, prepared and served meals for 250 people at the Sunnyvale Armory Shelter and the Maple Street Homeless Shelter in Redwood City, made 56 fleece scarves for foster children, and planted more than 70 fruit trees throughout the area.

Volunteers ranged in age from 2 to 85 and included many families with young children.

The JCC’s Mitzvah Day, honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., has steadily grown in size and scope since its inception five years ago. “Many families have made Mitzvah Day their annual tradition,” said event manager Luba Palant. “We’re proud to be a part of the generous spirit that thrives in our community. It’s a terrific feeling.”