Detroit— Hundreds of families in need were surprised with gifts on their doorstep on Christmas morning, thanks to a Detroit non-profit.
Jimmy’s Kids, which donated clothes, toys, and gift cards to over 350 families Sunday morning, is one of a dozen organizations that participated in the 26th annual Mitzvah Day, a volunteering day coordinated by the Jewish Community Relations Council/ American Jewish Committee (JCRS/AJC).
“We all have the ability to give back no matter how bad things might be or seem, there’s always somebody that always needs something more,” Howard Lazar, site captain for Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, said at Jimmy’s Kids event on Christmas Day. “It helps us to also show our children… to always be thankful and to do better.”
The event was held on Detroit’s west side, at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, where volunteers could drive through the church’s parking lot to pick up predesignated gift bags to deliver to families.
Each bag listed the family’s name, ages, address and volunteers could choose to pick up one to four different bags to deliver to different families. Sunday morning the church lot saw families who come to distribute gifts every year and several first-timers.
It was Khalil Rahman’s first time volunteering with Jimmy’s Kids. He drove from Ypsilanti to do it with his father.
“He told me ‘I’m going,’ so I decided I wanted to go too,” Rahman, 32, said. Rahman was driving through the lot while his father picked up a gift bag to drop off to a family.
Tina Varlesi, of Birmingham, was also looking for an opportunity where she could help the community with her son during the holiday season. “I’ve been volunteering actually since I was a little girl. I started out in soup kitchens, hospitals,” she said, noting that this was her also first time volunteering with Jimmy Kid’s.
She celebrates Christmas, but still made time to deliver gifts to a family in the morning.
Jim Tuman, 81, founded the organization in 1988 and it served 22 special needs children in Detroit. Since then, the organization has expanded its partnerships nationally and globally, Tuman said.
“The beauty in this is in what we’ve been able to do here, which is to bring all these faiths together to serve a common purpose,” Tuman said. “People are trying to do this and this little corner of Detroit, we figured it out.”
“People have been coming here for all these years just to be a part of this and we’ve seen repeaters continuously,” he said, adding that some volunteers have been helping Jimmy’s Kids since it started 34 years ago.
Malaak Rehman, a 10 year-old residing in Canton, was helping Jimmy’s Kids on Christmas morning and said although delivering gifts in the cold is not comfortable, she enjoys giving and seeing the families smile when they get their presents.
“It makes me feel good on the inside, sometimes I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ but then when we’re giving, and I see the people’s houses, it makes me feel really good on the inside,” Malaak said.
“Many of them have nothing, many of them you walk into their homes and you see that they have zero to give to their kids. Well today they have something,” Tuman said.
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