Congregation Beth Israel volunteers

Congregation Beth Israel volunteers meet at Sprouts on Thanksgiving morning to pick up meals to deliver to homebound individuals, the elderly, those in need and families who have a loved one in serious medical care.

Photo courtesy of Gail Baer

Congregation Beth Israel’s Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project this year was the largest one in its history, according to the congregation.

Congregant volunteers delivered 776 meals to 329 locations on Thanksgiving morning and much of the nearly $7,000 cost of the meals came from congregant donations. The meals are delivered to individuals who are homebound, elderly, in need or alone and to families who have a loved one in serious medical care.

According to CBI, there was an increase of nearly 38 percent in deliveries and 30 percent in the number of meals over last year’s project.

Recipients of the meals came from lists provided by 12 agencies in Maricopa County, according to project chair Jeanne Chanen. “After getting the lists, I produce a master roster, which is sorted into ZIP codes, then divided into approximately 67 delivery routes, each with between three and six stops, for our CBI congregants to deliver meals,” Chanen explained in an email. “Our CBI youth group was instrumental this year in checking addresses and printing routes with maps to give to our volunteers.”

Additionally, congregant volunteers baked homemade desserts and brought them to CBI on the weekend before Thanksgiving, to add to the meals purchased from Sprouts. A committee of volunteers helped assemble the donated desserts into packages appropriate to distribute, based on the number of meals to be delivered to each residence, and then the desserts were stored in a CBI refrigerator until Thanksgiving.

“Gail Baer, her husband, Michael, and their three children breathed life into this project many years ago, then handed the reins to me three years ago,” Chanen wrote. “I am not sure when the project started, but the current format has been in place for over a decade. Our congregants’ participation in this annual mitzvah of getting up early on Thanksgiving to come to Sprouts to get an assignment for meal delivery has become an annual tradition for many families, and there is usually a waiting list of congregants wanting to deliver meals but not enough routes to assign to willing volunteers. I personally have delivered meals with my three daughters for over 10 years, and we look forward to participating every year.”  

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