The theme of her Bat Mitzvah was food, and one local student took that opportunity to give some of that back to those in need.
Jamie Osman, a seventh-grader at , was already involved in charity work when she decided to add one more act to her resume, donating food collected for her Bat Mitzvah project to the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.
Already a regular with the Interfaith Hospitality Network as she volunteered for the dinner shift and to stay with guests, Osman found, with the help of her father Larry, YouGiveGoods, a website that allows people to advertise for donations to local charities.
“We created the site together, and put it on Facebook too,” Larry Osman said. “In no time, about $500 worth was donated, and we went to the food bank when the truck delivered the food. It was a good experience for her, in the fact that it was so easy to do.”
That $500 worth of food was actually about 35 percent higher than Jamie Osman’s initial goal.
With her Bat Mitzvah on Sept. 17, Larry Osman said, his daughter was already planning ways of collecting food for those in need by using baskets of items as table centerpieces instead of flowers.
Jamie Osman said she was excited to do this, and to take it one step further with the website.
“I felt that this could feed more hungry in our community,” she said. “I saw the impact my drive had, and that it’s good to be involved to make people’s lives better.”
Initially, Larry Osman said, his daughter had been focusing on the Interfaith Hospitality Network, where she befriended some of the children, and even took them to for their birthdays.
“They generally don’t get anything that nice,” he said.
And when his daughter began studying for her Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth El in Hillsborough, Osman said, she was supposed to do another charity project, which is when she began collecting food.
“She was going to be giving food to the county food bank with the table decorations,” he said. “But then we heard of the website and thought it kind of complements this.”
“She was learning her Torah portion, and what that meant and the prayers, and there’s a piece of it that speaks to what it is to help,” he added. “It’s almost like a no brainer, if people are doing these charity projects, why not set up a drive. It’s amazing how generous people can be.”
Basically, Osman said, he and Jamie put together the drive on the website, and posted links to it on Facebook to get the word out to their friends. People were asked to purchase goods beginning at $5 via the Internet, and YouGiveGoods, based in Morristown, collected and delivered all the items to the food bank.
Osman said they reposted the information multiple times over a month-long period, and the results were very good.
“People were very generous,” he said. “We have friends all over, and people from Chicago donated. Even a guy from the Philippines donated, so it was very interesting.”
Once the drive had ended, Osman said, he, his wife and Jamie waited for the truck delivery at the food bank.
“Normally, the workers there have to sort through all this food, and they find stuff that is expired and things people generally don’t want,” he said. “This way, the truck came and we put it all out ready to give away.”
Osman said he is proud of the work his daughter did, and how involved she got in donating to those in need.
“I thought this was amazing because Jamie said you’re one click away from helping someone,” he said. “The best thing is to make it personal and social. Anyone can start a food drive so easily, and things will happen.”
Jamie Osman said she is glad she got the opportunity to help and make a difference. She said she would absolutely continue collecting food for those in need in the future.
“It doesn’t take much effort to help people, so why not do it more,” she said.