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A "Chamal" in Raanana

Chanie and her husband Avi in the chamal sorting boxes for displaced families

On October 8, when a friend of mine volunteered for reserve duty, he saw that hundreds of soldiers who had rushed to join their units were lacking essential items. As olim, we have family and friends outside of Israel who are eager to help in any way they can, so when I heard this from my friend, right then and there a "chamal" was opened in my garage in Raanana. ["Chamal"is an acronym for "cheder matzav l'milchama", meaning war room or, as in this case, an operation center that is set up to help with the war effort.]

With the support of generous British and American communities, we set up Amazon wish lists and collected funds to buy whatever the soldiers needed. Members of my Shivtei Yisrael community offered to help, and soon we had a small army of volunteers. We were introduced (through a local politician) to an incredibly generous family with a warehouse who stopped their own work to provide space for our operation. We joined forces with similar operations that sprang up after that black Saturday in October and we have been working together non-stop ever since.

Donated goods arrive at Ben Gurion Airport from the UK, the US, India – from everywhere – which are met by volunteers and brought to the chamal. It wasn't all smooth sailing initially with customs officers and El Al, but everyone was united in the goal to get goods to soldiers and now they greet us like old friends.

Many volunteers, like me, are balancing a day job while volunteering. We have to get the gear to soldiers quickly and we often work through the night to turn around the shipments. We send donated thermal gear, warm jackets, medical equipment, sleeping bags, tents, generators, tactical uniforms, batteries, towels, toiletries, and more. Volunteers pack everything ready to send, and other volunteer drivers deliver it all directly to the bases.

We also collect and deliver donated clothing, toys, and other goods to displaced citizens from the south and north of Israel.

There are so many people to thank. This is an operation that couldn't happen without the help and cooperation of Simba and Erez Druker, El Al, customs officials at Ben Gurion Airport, our hardworking team of volunteers, our generous donors, and the support of Beit Knesset Shivtei Yisrael in Raanana. 

Goods arrive at Ben Gurion Airport
 

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Thursday, 13 June 2024

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