Since the first Good Deeds Day on May 8, 2007, the number of volunteers has grown from 7,000 to 2.5 million, the number of projects has grown from 130 to 20,000, and the number of countries involved has grown from one — only Israel participated in Good Deeds Day until 2011 — to 93.
The international date for Good Deeds Day 2018 is April 15, and the participation is only expected to grow.
Locally, Jewish Volunteer Connection, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, organized 17 events across Baltimore City and County that are open to the public, and additional closed projects for groups such as religious schools to participate in.
Dori Chait, chair of the 2018 Good Deeds Day, made the distinction between events that are drives, and events that are direct service. The former entails collecting things that will benefit an organization or population, while the latter involves actual interaction with the organization or population that is being served.
For her, finding the balance is very important.
“Are we doing something for the environment? Are we doing something for the elderly? Are we doing something for women and children?” Chait asked rhetorically. “That’s something I really pay attention to: tapping into as many different kinds of populations in need as we can.”
In addition to serving a diverse population of those in need, Chait makes sure that there are also projects available for people of all ages to participate in.
The Jewish Federation of Howard County made similar strides in providing services to a diverse group of populations in need. Eric McCormick, chair of the Federation’s Good Deeds Day, said Howard County will host 10 events, including a blood drive at Temple Isaiah, two different food drives to serve low-income students and Howard County’s homeless population and a playground cleanup at the Lubavitch Center of Howard County.
McCormick’s responsibilities include making sure host sites will be able to accommodate 30 or more people, and making sure there isn’t any lack of supplies.
“I’m making sure that the hosts of each site have the resources they need to get things done,” said McCormick.
Chait says that although volunteering and services for underprivileged groups is what JVC does year round, there’s still something special about the work done on Good Deeds Day.
“What’s especially powerful about Good Deeds Day is the international component,” she said. “Jewish communities throughout the world are participating in these acts of kindness at, loosely, the same time.”