Thousands of Israelis were expected to contribute 245,000 volunteering hours during the fourth annual Good Deeds Day, the Ruach Tova organization estimated Tuesday. More than 68,000 participants volunteered in some 1,000 initiatives around the country, including: Homes for the aged, children's homes, hostels for people with special needs, hospitals, public parks, homes for abandoned animals and nursing organizations.
The day began with a festive event, during which Shari Arison, who initiated the project, opened the day's trading at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. During the day, hundreds of activities were held for volunteers.
At the same time, recycling stands were operated in 12 cities, to which the public was invited to bring old electrical appliances, metal packaging and plastic bags. MDA also operated 15 blood-donation units.
Dozens of local authorities and municipalities also participated this year. They led various community activities: In Tel Aviv volunteers cared for public parks, packed food for needy families, and worked with refugee children. In Jerusalem there were 50 initiatives, including a kindergarten music initiative by President's Residence employees. In Haifa the day marked the peak of a week's volunteering concentrating on environmental issues. In Sderot, children from five schools took part in making the city more beautiful.
A day of solidarity (Photo: Sivan Faraj)
Among the participants were some familiar names. Eliraz Sadeh, the winner of Israel's "Big Brother" reality show, visited children in hospital. Singer Mira Awad and journalist Lihi Lapid led a campaign to encourage literacy initiated by Lod municipality, during which they met with pupils and took part in a women's empowerment panel.
The comic duo Rotem Abuhav and Anat Magen Shabu starred in the "Morning of Laughter" event, while Minister Yossi Peled (Likud) toured Migdal Haemeq, where he opened the soccer match in which Gustavo Boccoli joined Maccabi Haifa players.
Good Deeds Day also included a few events outside Israel. The international Jewish student organization Hillel held a series of events during the previous week in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
"If someone had told me that nearly 70,000 people would take par this year, I would have said he was dreaming," said Rafi Elul, Ruach Tova chairman. "Yet once again we have seen proof that reality is stranger than fiction, and today is a reality of mutual assistance and solidarity in Israeli society."