H&M will exchange old clothes for store vouchers – even in Israel!

Yay, retail!

Looks like H&M has its new years resolutions in order and is starting a new program called iCollect, launching February 2013, to take your old clothes for recycling/reprocessing in exchange for store vouchers. So hand over a bag of used clothes -> get some H&M rewards.

Seems the program will be worldwide, including all of the brand’s 48 markets, so that’s great news for H&M Israel shoppers! We don’t often get awesome no friar opportunities like that from corporate chains.

Also, it sure beats stuffing our old stained crap in those yellow sidewalk bins.

This is really amazing news; the clothing industry wastes tons of resources every year by manufacturing too much and destroying what’s left unused. There’s simply too much clothing floating around – manufactured cheaply, discarded carelessly.

FYI: Keep in mind – this stuff will be destroyed and re-used to manufacture. It’s a great cause, but if you have some real worthy stuff, why not donate to charity so that less fortunate people have the opportunity to look fabulous?

(h/t to you, momma, via Budget Fashionista)

1 in 4 Israeli elderly live below the poverty line (Shana Tova)

Quick shout-out to Ezrat Avot, in honor of the quickly-approaching Rosh Hashana, Jewish New Year…

Back in my old job, around the major holidays, we’d band together and as an office, collectively donate around 20,000 NIS to Jerusalem-based Ezrat Avot.

Even though we are no longer giving together, I do hope many of us continue the tradition. As a (currently) young person, I can’t help but feel the responsibility to ensure that our elders are taken care of in every way, especially hunger. One in four of Israel’s elderly live below the poverty line… 18.3% of Israel’s elderly are abused, mostly by family members and caregivers…

They took care of our parents and ourselves when we were helpless; how can we not do the same for them,with respect and dignity?

A lil more about the organization:

Ezrat Avot’s mission is to provide the services, resources and education necessary to enable Israel’s elderly to age in the comfort and dignity of their own homes and communities.

Read more about the Ezrat Avot backstory, and here’s where you can donate to aid the elderly across Israel  this holiday.

Start the year off righteous…

Giving lone soldiers their post-army profession.

Lone soldiers.

I have no idea if that is just an Israeli concept, but what it means to us is the demographic of soldiers in the IDF who are immigrants and have no immediate family located in Israel to support them throughout their army service. They have no default place to go for weekends off or Shabbat and holiday meals. The family they have to visit is abroad somewhere – Brazil, England, France, Australia, the United States, etc.

They come to Israel and serve and then they leave the army but a lot of the time they don’t leave Israel; they’ve made aliyah, after all. So they need professions, skills, education – they need what we all needed, a first job to kick start a career in Israel.

Your company or organization could possibly help them with folks who’d like to mentor a lone soldier in their potential field.

The HESEG Foundation offers scholarships for lone soldiers and matches mentors with their scholarship recipients in the fields of computers and software, communications, law, business and accounting.

For more information, contact Itamar Shalev.

Here’s a bit more about the HESEG Foundation:

HESEG Foundation provides full academic scholarships and living expenses to former ” lone soldiers ” (חיילים בודדים) who have completed their services in the IDF and have chosen to make Israel their home. Lone soldiers are men and women from all over the world, who come to Israel to volunteer in the IDF. These remarkable individuals leave their families and friends behind, and are driven by their ideals and commitment to Israel’s security and future.

HESEG was established by Canadians Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman as a way to recognize and honor the contribution of the lone soldiers to Israel, by providing them with an opportunity, through education and career development, to start a life in Israel.

The HESEG scholarship program focuses on nurturing leadership and motivating achievement in the academic world, and in broader Israeli society. Scholars are required to meet a high academic level and contribute to their community through weekly volunteer work.

From discussions held by HESEG with its scholars HESEG identified a need for scholar counseling and guidance. As a result HESEG has launched the mentors program, a personal guidance program where professional specialists from different fields offer their guidance and expertise to our scholars and alumni.

There are currently 21 mentors participating in the program, three of which are advisory board members. Mentors are matched up with scholars based on shared interests and meet with their scholars in an informal setting to offer advice and guidance.

A Passover bonus for everyone.

This is sweet. My company gave us our usual Passover bonuses in the form of gifts bought via Sderot, so that Sderot vendors make some money off of the deal as opposed to vendors elsewhere.

Since the population of Sderot has been suffering for years now, and business has suffered along with it, there has been a movement to purchase groceries, gifts, shoes, etc. within the city. A lot of people are doing this all over Israel, though it seems to be an especially Anglo thing.

I’m happy my company had the mind to share our Passover bonuses this way. Warm, fuzzy, Israeli, Jewish, happy.

Volunteer to help Sudanese refugees in Israel.

UPDATE: New info posted for volunteer opportunities to help African asylum seekers in Israel.

I’m passing this along for those of us who have time and resources to partake. It’s best that we Israelis act the part of good hosts while we are entangled in the Sudanese refugee mess.

After all, we know what it’s like to be homeless.

BACKGROUND

Refugees escaping war and political dictatorship from Sudan, Eritrea and the Ivory Coast amongst other African countries are in desperate need of assistance. The government makes no provision. Basic shelter, food and clothing for over 600 refugees is being provided by donation. The shockingly over-cramped living conditions are highly unsuitable for adults and more so for children.

For example, in one shelter, 190 asylum seekers occupy a 200 metre square space, sharing one toilet and shower and no cooking facilities. Another shelter is located above a shelter for active drug addicts. This shelter remains unlocked and the residents report strangers breaking in during the night. At times refugees sleep outside in the cold and rain.

Of particular concern at the moment is the severe lack of hostel space, the 13 unaccompanied children who need to be found schools/homes and the practical supplies and places to work needed for the older refugees (they do have work permits).

URGENT HELP/EQUIPMENT NEEDED

  • Food: 10 kg sugar, 10 bottles of oil, 100+ tea bags/ coffee, 50 cans of meat, sardines, tuna (all on an ongoing basis)
  • Women’s sanitary equipment (on an ongoing basis)
  • 10 shower curtains
  • 300 (or on an ongoing basis) pieces of soap
  • 300 (or on an ongoing basis) toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Men’s shoes and winter clothing, socks, woolen hats, scarfs, coats (enough for 350 people)
  • 350 Blankets, towels
  • 4 first aid kits and 4 lockers to keep the kits in a safe place
  • A fund for essential medicines for special cases when the refugees are not able to pay
  • 6 (used) cell phones and phone cards for the refugee leaders in the shelters in order to communicate with them to arrange daily life issues (e.g. to pass on information such as where to pick up food and to give the leaders the opportunity to contact us when there are serious problems in the shelters)
  • 4 phones (land lines) for the shelters for incoming calls only
  • Paint for the walls in the women’s shelter
  • Office equipment (computer, telephone, desk, chairs, fax, copy machine etc)
  • Space for temporary shelters
  • Schools to accept the 13 unaccompanied minors aged 14-15

Contact Gila at gilais@gmail.com. Please note donations need to be delivered

VOLUNTEERING NEEDED

No need for Hebrew unless specified. No need for own transport.

For the following please contact info@ardc-israel.org:

  • Volunteers to help in the shelters (e.g. daily check-in, escorting refugees to a doctor’s appointment, the hospital etc)
  • Volunteers to help find refugees accommodation
  • Volunteer Lawyers
  • Volunteer to help with the website
  • Volunteers to help with cooking
  • Volunteers to help with driving and coordination (e.g. transportation form the shelters to the hospital — car needed)
  • Volunteer to help fix the office computer
  • Volunteers to take in pregnant women or unaccompanied minors (usually age 15) to their home

For the following please contact Elisheva at eli7meli@gmail.com:

  • Volunteers to help find refugees work
  • Volunteer Social workers, Psychologists, Therapists, Physicians, Nurses

King Gaydamak of Jerusalem.

Charity is good and all, and everyone likes a nice project now and again. But this is going a little far for a hobby, right? Walking through the streets of Jerusalem, I turn my head and see the giant face of Arkadi Gaydamak:

Gaydamak in Jerusalem

I guess it’s unnerving because no one really knows what the Russian-Israeli billionaire’s ultimate plan is; no one is that rich without an agenda, right?

In this advertisement, posted on the side of a Jerusalem Egged bus:

Jerusalem, you deserve more.

The new Bikur Holim Hospital: With faces to the future.

Gaydamak reaches beyond Jerusalem to Sderot, where now he is apparently investing 90 million shekel in fortifying the beleaguered city. Again, I think billionaires pretending to be Robin Hood is noble… And maybe I’m misled by Russian stereotypes…

But…

Biking for charity in Israel.

The buzz around my corner of Jerusalem these days is the intense 5-day bike ride to raise money for Alyn Hospital dubbed Wheels of Love. Quite a few of my friends are participating and it’s nice to see.

One friend created this video on his 24km practice run yesterday… Try to put the motion sickness aside, the scenery at the end is all that is Jerusalem powerful.

If you’d like to help sponsor some of the riders, here are two excellent choices: Yosef and Yosef.