The Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund works with Chaiyanu, an organization in Israel that supports families of children with cancer. They have no medical expertise, but are experts at understanding what the critical illness of a child does to every member of the family. Everyone becomes a victim. They acknowledge that by giving every sibling an age-appropriate Chanukah gift.
The Fund was established as a living memorial for Robbie’s beloved father, Reb Yosef ben Avraham Chaim Neta, a’h, whose greatest enjoyment in life was to bring pure joy into the lives of every person he came in contact with, adult or child.
In addition, his love for Eretz Yisrael was deep-seated in his heart and soul, so what could be a better way to honor and memorialize him than to have a Chanukah toy fund for children in Israel with cancer, to light up their lives with the fulfillment of their wish list and inject pure joy once again into their home?
The Fund provides every child the opportunity to provide a wish list of things they would like to receive for Chanukah. With your support, the fund makes a gigantic effort to fulfill their wishes.
Some years ago the card came back from a young boy. All choices said “bike.” The mother was apologetic, but her son was determined. The family and the Schonfelds knew that he would never ride that bike, but bikes and boys are about more than riding.
That Chanukah, the Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund volunteers, together with partners Lev Leytzan, delivered that bike amid a sea of tears and smiles.
The process is grueling. They need to raise the money with partners around the world. They need to find and order the toys. They need to come in time. They need to be identified, sorted, and routed for delivery.
They need a maximum number of volunteers. Their staff and volunteers are working 18 hours day and night, packing, driving, singing, dancing, and celebrating the joy of a child who wants to be joyous.
They prepare for Chanukah all year long at the Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund. It gives them strength for all the days and times they need it.
Chanukah requires all the energy of a small staff and a large number of volunteers. They start early because the children need something special to look forward to. Their parents and siblings help with these difficult decisions.
Together with Lev Leytzan, New York’s premier medical clowning organization and its troupe of medical clowns, they transcend the delivery of the toys into a magical and joyous experience. “Lev Leytzan is proud to be associated with such wonderful, caring, and devoted partners such as Chaiyanu and the Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund,” noted Noach Gordon, director of development of Lev Leytzan. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Neal Goldberg; “We are a professional medical clown organization,” explains Dr. Goldberg, its founder and a psychologist who lives and works in the Five Towns. Each year Lev Leytzan recruits area teens selected to be professionally trained as medical clowns who volunteer to interact with patients empowering them to help ease their pain and discomfort by offering doses of playful engagement.
Now in its 10th year, the “Chanukah Mission” is purely funded by its volunteers and once on the ground in Israel, the toys, and the people, from the Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund routinely work 14–18 hours a day delivering the childlike essence of Chanukah, and what is second, only to a complete refuah . . . a smile.
Chanukah is all made with your donations. Without your donations and volunteering, it cannot happen. The fact that it does happen year after year is another miracle of a festival of miracles.
There are no words to describe what they see and feel—what it feels like, at that moment, to celebrate Chanukah in a child’s home late at night. Until the time when every child has a positive prognosis, the mission is clear. Support the family, and lend our strength to theirs.
Their strength is your strength, passed on.
This year’s melaveh malkah for the Ossie Schonfeld Memorial Chanukah Toy Fund will take place on Motzaei Shabbos, November 16, at 8:15 p.m. at the home of Robbie and Judy Schonfeld, 850 Broadway in Woodmere. A very special program is planned, including the famous Ossie’s Sushi Bar. This year they will also have a wine-and-cheese tasting.
Please join in making this Chanukah the best Chanukah ever, because where there is joy there is hope! For more information please call 516-791-2158 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. v