When Quince Orchard Park (QOP) resident Maddie Lubin collected 65 balls, 75 books, 20 beach towels and an assortment of bubbles, jump ropes and other toys for kids ages 3 through 16, it all added up to more than just summer fun. The donations that filled two cars are going to refugee families in the DMV as part of the KindWorks Summer Fun program. This local community aid organization supports refugees settling in the region, the homeless, formerly incarcerated individuals, victims of domestic violence, low-income families and more.
Lubin, a student at Lakelands Park Middle, collected the items as her mitzvah project. She celebrated her B’not Mitzvah ceremony with two other girls on June 1 at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville and a beach-themed party for 70 at the Quince Orchard Park Clubhouse.
The mitzvah project is designed “for kids to learn to give something back to the community,” Jason Lubin, Maddie’s father, said.
“I chose this project because there’s a lot going on with immigrants,” Maddie said. “I wanted to help refugee families.”
She became acquainted with KindWorks through the Jewish Cultural School (JCS) in DC. JCS is part of Machar (Hebrew for “tomorrow”) The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Last summer, her family helped to set up apartments for three refugee families, and they met one family from Afghanistan.
For the mitzvah project, Maddie asked family, friends and those in her school community at Lakelands Park Middle for donations. She also posted the KindWorks Summer Fun flyer to Instagram, and JCS put out a box for donations from the congregation.
So many brought donations to her Bat Mitzvah party that a red wagon reserved for the items was full within five minutes. “People were very generous,” Maddie said.
“Maddie really enjoyed sorting the donations,” Eileen Heaps, Maddie’s mother, said. She and Maddie took the donations to KindWorks on June 3, but they will continue to collect summer fun items for the nonprofit throughout the summer with O’HAIR Salon, 424 Main St., and Lakelands Park Middle School, 1200 Main St., as drop-off locations. Donations can be dropped off at Lakelands Park Middle Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until July 5. KindWorks has a special need for markers, construction paper, glue sticks, stickers, cards, frisbees and books for youth ages 3 to 16. “I hope this inspires other kids to volunteer,” Heaps said.
Machar focuses on Jewish history, culture and service, Maddie explained. According to the congregation’s website, “Humanistic Judaism was founded as a congregational movement in 1963 by the late Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, and has emerged as a stream of Judaism that enables people of any ethnic or religious background to cherish Jewish history, culture, and ethics without worshiping or praying to a supernatural being.”
Maddie’s B’not Mitzvah ceremony did not include reading from the Torah. Instead, she completed a project related to Jewish identity. She surveyed teens from numerous belief backgrounds to explore how they relate to their religions. The survey was anonymous, but the project included face-to-face recorded interviews with teens—one who is Muslim and Christian, two who are Jewish and one who is Christian. The video was shown at Maddie’s Bat Mitzvah party.
Her mitzvah project connected with her Jewish identity project in that many of today’s immigrants are fleeing because of religious persecution, she noted.