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Senior apartment residents give through new charity project

A resident of B'nai B'rith apartments gets ready to empty an ark-shaped box for the high rise's charity collection.
Sarah Scinto
A resident of B'nai B'rith apartments gets ready to empty an ark-shaped box for the high rise's charity collection.

The small, bright yellow banks residents at B’nai B’rith in Wilkes-Barre have been keeping in their apartments reminded them to give a little bit every day.

They filled the ark-shaped banks with coins and bills over 100 days to donate to the charity they chose as a community, and last week, they learned the total they had raised for Dinners for Kids, a local organization that provides meals to children in need.

“We’re all senior citizens, we’re all on fixed incomes,” said resident Lonnie Zoeller. “But it certainly is something we felt was worthwhile…and due to the fact that we knew exactly that it was going to a local charity, we were more apt to give than we would be to send something in the mail.”

Rabbi Yossi Schulman, president and CEO of Unite the World, said what Zoeller described is the goal of the project.

“People give together and they see the impact of where they’re giving to,” he said. “They know that they can make a difference.”

Unite the World is the organization behind the ARK Charity project. Schulman has been building a local model for the project that he hopes other members of Unite the World will bring to their communities.

They’ve done collections with the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, Wyoming Area Catholic School, B'nai B'rith Apartments and All Saints Academy this year.

Schulman says what makes the project unique is that participants get to vote on what charity they will give to. B'nai B’rith’s residents chose Dinners for Kids, which treasurer Gary Williams said was a pleasant surprise.

“This is the first time I’ve seen an elderly high rise supporting us in this way,” he said. “Usually our funding comes from businesses… we have individuals that know about us and send money in through the mail, but it’s rare that we have a community like this supporting us.”

The residents of B’nai B’rith donated more than $1,100 to Dinners for Kids through their collection. Williams said Dinners for Kids usually spends about $3.30 per meal, so $1,000 will buy about 300 meals for children enrolled in the program.

“That’s the beautiful thing,” Schulman said. “It's their impact, and every single dollar will go to Dinners for Kids to actually give the food to the children.”

Sarah Scinto is the local host of All Things Considered on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.