A recent campaign to raise scholarships for Israeli children in the path of rocket attacks has ended with great success. The Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara asked the community to join their effort to raise money for the Sderot Summer Camp Challenge.
Sderot is a town less than a mile from the Gaza Strip. The city has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip for more than 10 years, almost every day. The constant barrage of rocket attacks on the city has killed 13 Israelis, wounded dozens, caused millions of dollars in damage and profoundly disrupted daily life.
The ongoing and frequent air-raid sirens and unrelenting barrage of thousands of rockets from Gaza have caused severe psychological trauma, resulting in more than 50 percent of the city’s children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our security situation is still a roller-coaster for our residents, ” said Odelia Ben Porat of the Reut-Sderot Association. “However, our ‘on the ground’ services are constantly being improved, and we strive to offer support and services to ever-widening circles of residents, especially Sderot’s wonderful children.”
Reut Sderot offers exciting summer programs to Sderot’s children, an important and crucial distraction from the scary reality with which they live. In their seventh year of operation, Reut-Sderot tries to financially assist any Sderot family who would otherwise be unable to send their child to camp. For many children, scholarships are the only way that they can be with friends, and stay safe and busy during the school vacation. That’s where the Santa Barbara Federation’s Women’s Division stepped in.
Led by Laini Millar Melnick, Lauren Katz and Rachelle Pegg, the Women’s Division’s campaign goal was to help 36 children at $160 per child. The campaign raised more than $5,600, and now 37 children have received the gift of a worry-free summer, and provided with positive memories to last a lifetime.
In their thank you note, the camp staff reported, “Hundreds of children arrived yesterday morning to camp, all of them excited and chock full of overflowing anticipation and joy. All of the children participated in outdoor activities at a nearby Kibbutz, and at the end of the day returned tired and happy. Your generosity and bigheartedness have guaranteed that these children will enjoy the chance to participate in and enjoy a wide rainbow of camp activities. Thanks to your support and generosity, parents were able to calmly leave for work with relaxed certainty that their children would be well cared for, busy playing, learning, making new friends and experiencing new moments. None of this would have been possible without your help. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
— Nancy Friedland is the communications coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.