Members of Drexel Hillel and Chabad at Drexel, two active Jewish life student groups, attended the “Philly Friendship Circle Walk 2012” to help raise funds and awareness for the Friendship Circle organization. The event was held Oct. 21 at the Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr.
The student team that walked called themselves “Mario Loves Jews.” Drexel students helped at the event both by participating in the walk and volunteering with the running of refreshment booths. According to Friendship Circle’s website, the organization “serves families of children with special needs — toddlers through young adults. Participants are paired with local teenage volunteers, fostering the development of mutually beneficial and meaningful relationships.” Friendship Circle aimed to raise $72,000 through the event.
“Drexel’s presence helped because we added to the number of people walking to raise awareness for children with mental disabilities. In addition, we helped with the food stands. Although we didn’t have a huge, monumental impact, we definitely left our mark by walking,” Ava Skolnik, a sophomore psychology major and representative of Hillel, said.
“As the ahava chair, or community service chair, on the Chabad student board, I think it is really important that students are an active part of a community within the campus but also on a greater and outside scale,” Elyse Richter, a sophomore graphic design major and Chabad representative, said.
She continued, “This is the first year Drexel has been a participant and sponsor of Friendship Circle events. Students have already hosted several successful activities since the beginning of the school year, and we are looking forward to many more in the upcoming semesters.”
“I had heard about the Friendship Circle from Rabbi and Moussia Goldstein of the Chabad House serving Drexel. They are always looking to provide more opportunities for all students to be in touch with the community, and I was eager to be put in contact with the Philadelphia Friendship Circle representative to start coordinating events,“ Richter said.
Richter then reached out to Hillel, and the Jewish student organizations paired up for this particular community outreach effort.
Skolnik said, “I first heard of [Friendship Circle] in high school but more recently became involved because Elyse approached me to see if I was interested and if Hillel would be interested in getting involved with this incredible organization.”
As a member of the Hillel board, Skolnik said she was able to have a more active role in working with Friendship Circle.
“As the tzedek chair of Hillel, we were involved in numerous ways: in helping to plan and coordinate the event, from updating the Facebook page to promoting around Hillel and at Shabbat to participating in events with Friendship Circle,” Skolnik said.
Friendship Circle was founded by Chabad as an outreach movement associated with the Lubavitch Chassidic sect of Judaism. The Chabad movement is designed to foster Jewish life on college campuses all over the U.S. and in Jewish communities all over the world. Friendship Circle was designed to connect teenagers with children of special needs and their families within the Jewish community who need their aid.