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Volunteers around Barnet lend a hand for Mitzvah Day
THOUSANDS of volunteers across Barnet took part in a good deeds day that swept the nation on Sunday.
Events took place at various locations, including churches, synagogues, schools and nursing homes in support of Mitzvah Day, a Jewish-led initiative which encourages people across the globe to give their time to charities rather than their money.
Kicking off the event early on Friday, November 19, Akiva School, in Finchley, baked food for a homeless shelter, made cards and gifts and visited Rosetrees old age home, Asher Loftus Way, in Colney Hatch Lane.
Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, took part in two Mitzvah Day events.
On Friday, she visited Jewish Community secondary school, in New Barnet, which supported a project organised by World Jewish Relief.
The students went to school wearing hats, scarves and gloves which were donated to the charity which will send them to people living in poverty round the world.
On Sunday, the official day for the event, she visited Apthorp Lodge care home, in New Southgate, with the League of Jewish Women for a tea party.
Youngsters got involved in the day’s activities at Finchley’s New North London Synagogue, in East End Road, where they made and decorated hats for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The children also made greeting cards in partnership with Blue Peter’s Go Cardz and decorated plant pots which were given to residents at Finchley Memorial Hospital.
Finchley and Golders Green MP, Mike Freer, and Councillors Melvin Cohen, Daniel Seal, Graham Old and Andrew Harper, along with Norwood chief executive Norma Brier helped paint a day room and part of a corridor at Norwood Residential Care Home, in Finchley Central.
Mr Freer, who volunteers at Norwood every Mitzvah day, said: “We got covered in paint – but the day went really well.
“It’s so easy to write a cheque but it’s always good to do something for a couple of hours to help support a charity.”
The Rotary Club of Edgware and Stanmore, along with kids from Edgware & District Reform Synagogue did they bit for Mitzvah Day with Focus on the Crocus.
They planted crocus corms as part of the rotary’s campaign to eradicate polio worldwide.
The late Peter Woolstone, who was chairman of the synagogue in 1985/1986 and president of the rotary club, pioneered the polio eradication campaign. TV stars were also doing their bit for the community as Melissa Cohen, who was a contestant on this season’s The Apprentice, on BBC One, visited the Jewish Care home, Rubens House, in Ballards Lane.
Melissa, who had contacted the home to ask if she could help out on Mitzvah Day, along with Woodside Park Cheder, helped decorate biscuits and spent time talking to residents individually.
In particular she bonded with Solle Frankel, who despite celebrating his hundredth birthday in October was able to recount to Melissa some of his earliest memories.
Christina Nimako, social care co-ordinator at the home, said: “We celebrate Mitzvah Day every year – having the volunteers here makes such a great difference to our home.
“Mitzvah Day is a really great way to get the community involved.”