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Kids helping Kids: How Parents Can Encourage their Children to Do Good Deeds
By Cathy Lanyard, Executive Director, American Friends of ALYN Hospital

“Hello…I am the School Director for a school with kids from K-8 and we are trying to find a meaningful, hands-on project to involve our entire student body. Any ideas?”

“Hi…My Bar mitzvah is in a few months and I want to get all my friends involved in some kid of project to help others. Can your organization help me?”

In response to these and similar questions about how people young and old can get involved in doing something for people less fortunate, we created the Mitzvah of Love project. After fielding so many calls and emails I took a fact finding trip across the US and talked to Principals, Religious School Directors and young people about what they were looking for in a charity project.

I discovered that the days of encouraging children and teenagers to donate their money to McDonald’s charity boxes are gone – everyone I spoke to was unanimous in wanting to meet several goals: teach the lessons of good deeds to others and also actually prompt participants to act.

The “Mitzvah of Love” program does all this and more – all it takes is for one child, teen or adult to pick an activity, invite their friends, ask their community to sponsor them, and Friends of ALYN will do the rest. “We wanted to make this program as simple and as easy as possible, so that all the participants have to do is focus on having a great time and helping kids across the world.

All money raised goes directly to support the handicapped children at ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem – Israel’s premiere comprehensive rehabilitation center for physically handicapped children. “I love the idea that healthy, fabulous American children are getting up and doing something because they can for the Alyn kids who cannot. Working with these groups is so rewarding and we are thrilled to see more and more events happening all across the US.

Tragedy during conflict does not discriminate between male or female, adult or child. ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem is evidence of this – the children rehabilitating within its walls are as often from Israeli Arab and Palestinian villages as they are from Israeli towns. ALYN’s philosophy makes it as unique as their patients – there is a one-on-one relationship between each child and their therapist, so that no matter what the health issue – birth defect, degenerative disease, or injury as a result of the conflict – the child is given all the attention and love that cutting edge technology and a loving staff can provide.

For kids of any age – even grown up kids – there is something to do in order to raise money for this special hospital. All it takes is for one child, teen or adult to pick an activity, invite their friends, ask their community to sponsor them, and Friends of ALYN will do the rest. The program is designed to be as simple as possible, with Friends of ALYN providing everything from a CD of downloadable letters and email formats for sponsors to pedometers for each participant so that they can count the number of steps or the amount of time spent in during the activity. All the participants have to do is focus on taking the helm in their community and having a good time.

Alyn is a private nonprofit hospital and only a portion of every child’s care is reimbursed by health insurance; so the American Friends of Alyn seeks friends to help them meet the funding shortfall.

To find out more about Mitzvah of Love programs, past successful projects and how to organize your own project go to www.alynus.org and/or call Cathy Lanyard, Executive Director of American Friends of Alyn Hospital, at 212-869-8085.

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