Talmudical Academy Student Raises Money for Chai Lifeline With Sweet Treats

Yehuda Shor (Jillian Diamond)

Sometimes, doing good for others can be as simple as selling sweets out of your front yard.

That’s what Yehuda Shor learned when he set out to raise money for Chai Lifeline as part of its Chai-A-Thon 2023 campaign. The 10-year-old Talmudical Academy of Baltimore student has spent the past few weeks selling cotton candy from his and his family friends’ front yards, raising a total of $2,190 for the charity in the process.

Yehuda attends Talmudical Academy’s summer camp, Camp Chofetz Chaim, which was one of many camps to participate in the Chai-A-Thon 2023 fundraiser. Chai-A-Thon encourages children to team up or work on their own to raise money through the fundraising format of their choice, such as through bake sales. Participants are rewarded with different prizes based on the amount of money they raise, with some of the top prizes including a trampoline, a Segway or a $400 Amazon gift card.

From the beginning, Yehuda had his eyes set on the mini jackpot prize, which would allow him to collect a prize from every tier below the $2,000 line. So he and his mother, Janinne Bracha Shor, got to thinking about ways they could raise money to help Chai Lifeline’s mission of aiding families with children facing illnesses.

This was far from the first time their family has done charitable work. Yehuda had participated in the Chai-A-Thon in the past, and he and his mother have also raised funds for the Jewish Caring Network before.

“We used to do bake sales, but we only ever did one because of how hard it was to [organize],” Yehuda said. “We had a cotton candy machine from that sale, so I started using it to make and sell cotton candy. I made the same amount of money from that as I did from the bake sale, and I was able to do it more often.”

So he set up shop in his front yard, selling the sweet treat in exchange for pay-what-you-want donations to Chai Lifeline. Yehuda held eight sales in total, with other community members and family friends letting him sell on their properties to raise more money in exchange for as much free cotton candy as they wanted.

“There were kids who donated a quarter, and there were people who donated over $50,” Janinne Bracha Shor said. “People felt his effort should be rewarded, and with that effort, there were more donations.”

She noted that initially, Yehuda went door to door to ask for donations — but he would often find that the people he approached had already donated to another Chai-A-Thon participant with the same idea. The cotton candy sales were a unique draw that got people to come out and donate, and to chat with others in their community who were doing the same.

Both Yehuda and his mother note the generosity of some of their neighbors and family friends, with Yehuda recalling a few stories in particular of people who made meaningful contributions.

“The first person who came got cotton candy, and then a second person came by,” he recalled. “The second person said that the first person had a fancy car and asked how much he donated. When he said he donated two dollars, the second person [scolded] him and doubled his donation.”

Of course, the cotton candy was not the only reason people came out. Some simply wanted to donate and turned down the cotton candy.

“I love Chai Lifeline; what they do is such a gorgeous thing,” Jannine Bracha Shor said. “What I love the best is that Yehuda got to help sick kids. While we were making the cotton candy, we would thank anyone who came and remind them of the good they were doing.”

She also spoke of how fundraising in the community helped Yehuda speak more easily with others.

Fittingly, one of the prizes that Yehuda received as a reward for his fundraising was a second, smaller cotton candy machine.

He said that he wants to raise even more money for the Chai-A-Thon next year.

“The best part is that I got to eat a lot of cotton candy,” he quipped.

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