Some of us think about doing great things while others actually get up and do them. Having started the incredible organization known as the Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund, Robbie Schonfeld and his family belong to the latter group.
It all started in 2001 when the family flew to Eretz Yisrael to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Robbie’s oldest son, Moishie. At the time, there was a lot of upheaval in the town of Chevron, and the residents were living in a state of anxiety and turmoil. The family decided that they wanted to do something to help the children of the community and try to make them happy during this difficult time.
When they returned to the States, they began spreading the word that they were collecting toys for this cause. A mere three days before the Schonfelds were scheduled to deliver what they had collected, they realized that they did not have enough toys to give these children, and they decided that they would fund the cause themselves. Within the next 48 hours, they managed to pull together a large amount of money and many toys to donate as well.
They had collected so much extra, that they called Chai Lifeline and asked if they could help them manage the donations and distribute them. The Schonfelds were connected with the Israel division, Chaiyanu, which explained their famous “wishlist” that allows sick children to request their most desired gifts in the hope that they would receive them as gifts. Robbie asked them to send him the wish list, and then informed them that he could fund 70% of the items on the list. The director of Chaiyanu almost fainted when he heard the wonderful news.
The Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund has grown to do some incredible things over the past ten years. They collect money and toys and then travel to Eretz Yisrael in order to distribute the requested gifts to children who suffer from serious medical conditions. They also give out winter coats to those in need, allowing many children from sick families that don’t have enough money to purchase a proper coat, to stay warm in the winter. They once gave a coat to a sick boy who was wearing a threadbare jacket in the dead of winter as he left Hadassah Hospital. With tears in her eyes, his mother told Mrs. Schonfeld that she was forced to choose between paying for her son’s medication or buying him a coat, for she could not afford both. But due to the efforts of the Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund, he now had both his medication and a warm winter coat.
For the past eight years, the toy fund has partnered with New York’s premiere professional medical clowning organization, Lev Letyzan: The Heart of Compassionate Clowning, Inc. and its executive director, Dr. Neal C. Goldberg. The toy fund and Lev Leytzan work tirelessly in 14-hour days distributing these long awaited Chanukah presents. But these toys are not just any toys; as Robbie explains, “I wouldn’t buy anything that I wouldn’t give to my own kids.” Kids all over Eretz Yisrael benefit from this incredible chesed.
Over the years, The Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund and Lev Leytzan included other partners throughout Eretz Yisrael—Shalva, Siach Sod, Alyn, Aleh, as well as orphanages and schools for disabled children. Their main goal is simply to see the children smile and experience a few moments of normalcy.
On December 1, at 8:00 p.m. the Schonfelds will be hosting a melavah malkah in order to raise the needed funds for this amazing chesed. Divrei chizuk u’bracha of “Weathering the Storm” will be given by guest speaker Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein of Ohr Naava. Guests can also enjoy a delicious sushi and dessert bar. Please join the Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund at the home of Judy and Robbie Schonfeld at 850 Broadway in Woodmere. Help them continue to make these children’s dreams come true. For more information please call 516-791-2158 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.