Jewish volunteers do their part to help environment during Day of Service

Scraplanta Executive Director Jonelle Dawkins (left) and Adamah Atlanta Hub Director Joanna Kobylivker.

At Congregation Shearith Israel’s community-wide Day of Service, dozens of volunteers collaborated to reuse, reduce and recycle at the Morningside synagogue.

Kids and adults made comfort bags, meals and dog beds with personal touches. The idea was generated in part by Atlanta moms who wanted to give leftover materials a second life when their kids finished a three-week, Jewish summer camp session.

Joanna Kobylivker is the Atlanta hub director of Adamah, a national Jewish environmental organization. Full of ideas about how to upcycle camp materials, Kobylivker was invited to meet the founder of Ridwell, a residential pickup recycling service, when a brainstorming session began.

Ryan Metzger, Ridwell CEO, said, “Our community partners are doing incredible work to support kids, artists, and animals in the Atlanta area and we are honored to be the bridge that brings them together through sharing resources and upcycling.”

Together the environmentalists developed an idea: Take old mattress toppers from Camp Coleman and sew them into pet beds for PAWS Atlanta with materials from Scraplanta. Ridwell would store the mattress toppers until project day.

“We had all these ideas, but the biggest lift was figuring out how to coordinate everything. It required transporting the beds from camp, storing them somewhere in Atlanta, gathering materials and sewing machines, getting volunteers, and then delivering the beds.”

Joanna Kobylivker, Director, Adamah Atlanta

The idea grew. By the time the Sept. 10 project rolled around there were a handful of opportunities for doing a mitzvah, or good deed.

Scraplanta provided sewing machines on site at Shearith Israel, the first time the organization has taken the sewing equipment on the road, said Executive Director Jonelle Dawkins.

“We’re very open to providing art education to the community,” said Dawkins.

In addition to the middle schoolers who upcycled foam mattresses to make 23 pet beds for animal shelter PAWS Atlanta, volunteers worked on:

  • Pre-K through second graders made 45 cards and packed 30 comfort bags for Intown Cares, a local nonprofit with a mission to prevent and reverse homelessness and hunger in Intown Atlanta. Shearith Israel was one of the faith-based organizations that helped launch Intown Cares in 2010.
  • Thanks to a grant from JFC&S, students in third through fifth grade made 300 bagel sandwiches through Bagel Rescue, a local non-profit that supports hunger relief by connecting restaurants with excess bagels to neighbors in need.
  • Volunteers packed over 100 bags of shelf-stable meals for nearby food-insecure elementary students with Backpack Buddies.
  • In the synagogue’s kitchen, young professionals baked honey cake and assembled Rosh Hashanah gift bags for One Good Deed, a program that matches older adults with volunteers for connection and companionship.
  • The Shearith Israel community gathered with other synagogues and Adamah ATL to clean up PeachtreeCreek Greenway, hauling off 3,000 pounds of trash.