Mayor Boris Johnson praises ‘wonderful generosity’ of thousands of Mitzvah Day volunteers

From shovelling horse manure at Kentish Town City Farm, to collecting food outside Tesco in Hampstead - this year’s Mitzvah Day saw hundreds in Hampstead and Highgate, and thousands across the country give up their time for a good cause.

The Jewish day of giving, which took place on Sunday (November 18), involved people from many different faiths volunteering at care homes, community centres, soup kitchens, and hospices.

More than 40 tonnes of goods and clothing for the homeless and refugee charities was collected, and an estimated 50,000 volunteering hours took place over the weekend.

For many in Camden, the day bought with it a host of new experiences, as well as the chance to get involved in the community.

Richard Willson, of Interact, organised a group of young volunteers to visit Kentish Town City Farm in Grafton Road, Kentish Town, where they mucked out the stables and planted fresh bulbs.

The project manager for the non-profit organisation, which helps young people volunteer, said: “We had lots of people from different faiths get together so there was lots of discussion.

“It was a chance for everyone to share their cultural backgrounds with each other and also help at the farm.”

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Volunteers outside Tesco in Heath Street, Hampstead, stopped the community in their tracks gathering more than �500 worth of canned food and non-perishable items for the New North London drop-in centre which supports asylum seekers.

David Yehuda Stern, who works at the Jewish Community Centre for London, took part in the donation drive on Sunday. He said: “It was remarkable. We were there for four hours with a team of eight volunteers and you could see its importance to the residents of Hampstead.”

He added: “On a personal note, Jewish people have a long history of being asylum seekers in other countries. We have a long standing relationship with the drop-in centre, and this was something we could do to help.”

At the London Jewish Cultural Centre in Ivy House, North End Road, Golders Green, young people cooked cakes and served tea to holocaust survivors.

Youth director Laurence Field said: “The survivors do much so much for us, going all around the country, visiting schools and giving talks and it can be very tiring so it was our way of giving back, and the kids saying thank you to them.”

Volunteers also turned up to paint walls and furniture at Marie Curie hospice in Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead, and dozens of school students stopped in at care homes to chat with elderly residents.

The Ham&High team also took part in Mitzvah Day by hosting a vintage tea party at The Trees care home in Broadlands Road, Highgate.

Dressed in top-hats and fur, the team served home-made cakes and tea and chatted with the residents for the afternoon.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has praised the city-wide effort, saying: “I am a keen supporter of Mitzvah Day and congratulate everyone involved.

“Your wonderful commitment and generosity really makes a huge difference to the communities that we live in.”

David Cameron and Labour party leader Ed Miliband, have also shown their support for the campaign, recognizing the tremendous effort people from all religions and political backgrounds put in each year.

With tens of thousands of volunteers taking party in more than 1,000 projects, the annual day of giving has been a success once again.

Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks said: “We have shown how together we can bring stronger local communities and I that hope the partnerships forged on Mitzvah day will flourish in weeks and months to come.”