- April 14, 2023
As volunteers with the Jewish Federation aided in handing out bags of fruit, vegetables and sweets outside the nonprofit's Jerry Doliner Food Bank on Tuesday, Nov. 23, they wished families a "Happy Thanksgiving."
One man, after having placed a bottle of juice into his shopping cart — already full with food — smiled at a volunteer and said, "It's thanks to you."
The Jewish Federation of Volusia and Flagler Counties has annually given away turkeys and groceries to families in need for Thanksgiving, and this year was no exception. A little over two months after the death of the organization's executive director, Gloria Max, volunteers banded together to make sure her mission to feed the less fortunate in the community lived on.
“We made a promise to her to keep it going," said Marvin Miller, president of the Jewish Federation. "With Janice taking over and operating the food bank side of it and all the volunteers you see out there, that made it worthwhile, that made it go. They all stepped up, which was wonderful.”
Janice Sumner is the nonprofit's executive secretary, and she said it's "wonderful" to be able to able to carry on Max's legacy. Prior to joining the Jewish Federation, Sumner said she had always wanted to do social work in the community. She just never had the chance to do so, and Max gave her that opportunity.
“To be able to carry that on is just fabulous," Sumner said.
About 25 volunteers helped distribute 260 turkeys at the Jerry Doliner Food Bank, located at 470 Andalusia Ave. People were already lined up outside the food bank well before the giveaway was scheduled to start, and both Miller and Sumner fielded phone calls from people advising they were running late, and to please hold on to their turkey until they could arrive at the food bank.
It was business as usual for a Thanksgiving turkey distribution.
“We’re a small part of the community, the Jewish Federation," Miller said. "It makes us feel so good to reach out to so many families.”
The Jewish Federation's Jerry Doliner Food Bank helps feed about 200 people a week in the community, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. It's a labor of love, said Miller, as the nonprofit absorbs all of its administration costs to make sure 100% of donations go toward helping the community.
“The public knows what we do and they support us," he said. "They know we’re here and this Jewish Federation is supported by a big part of the Christian community, so it’s wonderful to work together with them, and that’s the rewarding part. Helping each other.”
Sumner attributes the Jewish Federation's success to the community's support. Every dollar received is put to good use, she said.
“The continuation of that support has been invaluable and will remain invaluable," Sumner said. "... Gloria used to say that we could not do what we do without you, and it’s true.”