Donate your bar mitzvah leftovers

Bake up a kugel of kindness

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Your daughter’s bat mitzvah went brilliantly, but there are tons of food and decorations left over. What to do? It’s not like you can throw balloons, glow-sticks, and left over knish into a baking pan and whip up a kugel!

Why not be a mensch and donate your blessed abundance to the less fortunate?

All that delicious leftover rugelach will be graciously welcomed by agencies and organizations that feed the hungry and the decorations can be used as craft materials for inner-city and low-income children or seniors.

In a way, by giving away the goods, it’s like making a metaphorical kugel of kindness.

Here is how you can resourcefully recycle the relics of your family’s big day:


You don’t have to worry about breaking any laws or leaving yourself open to litigation by donating food. President Bill Clinton passed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act during his tenure, which protects donors from any potential liability when donating food items such as prepared food, food that was left out buffet-style, and so on to non-profit organizations.

Now that you know you are safe from any negative consequences, you should know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations in New York whose mission it is to provide food for people who cannot afford it. Soup kitchens, food pantries, food banks, churches, temples, and shelters are always in need of food for their patrons and you can donate in one of several ways.

First, find out if your neighborhood temple works with any organization that could use your donation. Most religious organizations assist food banks, soup kitchens, and other agencies, so you may be able to arrange the donation entirely through your temple. If your temple doesn’t provide this kind of service, someone in the office may be able to direct you to another religious organization, such as another temple, church, or local organization that does.

The Community Service Committee of the National Association for Catering and Events has also created a list of regional food donation centers throughout the northeast and can work directly with your caterer to organize a pick up of leftover food directly from the venue. Inform your caterer that you would like to donate excess food via NACE’s route and request that he organizes the pick up.

You can also check with Feeding America and ask about which food banks in your area are most in need and speak directly to one of the staffers to arrange a donation.


There are plenty of low-income children waiting to get their hands on paper, confetti, streamers, and ribbon in order to create their own arts and crafts masterpiece.

Again, make sure to check with your temple first and see if your leftover decorations could be put to good use there. Your temple, or another neighborhood religious organization, may be able to use your donation for an upcoming event.

If your decorations are not needed by a temple or church, make a list of five day-care centers in low-income neighborhoods and speak to someone in the office. Day-care centers and preschools in poverty-stricken areas are usually short on funds and welcome all kinds of donations, especially those that can enrich the children’s experience, such as art supplies.

You can also contact elementary schools in the same neighborhoods and ask if your donations could be put to good use. There may be a school dance or pep rally coming up that would be lacking in decorations, if not for your generosity.

Children aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from your donation. Your leftover decorations can be used by senior citizens at community centers and nursing homes, either for arts and crafts or for decorating the cafeteria, lounge, and common areas. Contact local adult day cares, senior community centers, and nursing homes and ask if there are any upcoming activities such as a birthday or a social that could stand to be spruced up with your lovely decorations or if they can be used for an arts and crafts activity.

Involve your child during the research and donation phases so your special one can learn a valuable lesson about mitzvahs for her bat mitzvah.

Posted 12:00 am, June 6, 2014
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