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A mitzvah is a good deed in Judaism, but a person doesn’t have to be Jewish to do something good in this world. The person doesn’t need to be an adult or over 2 feet tall either. Being kind is easy and takes very little effort for the most part. It’s so easy a child can do it!
Not everything can be fixed by holding a door for someone or smiling at a baby in the market. The oceans won’t magically be rid of the plastic refuse that is choking the whales because my daughters clean up garbage in the Pine Bush Preserve. Olivia and Rebecca will feel a sense of accomplishment because they will have participated in a mitzvah called Tikkun Olam, repairing the earth. If my daughters can feel a sense of accomplishment by cleaning up a corner of Albany, then maybe other kids would be inspired to clean up corners of their towns. Eventually there will be corners connecting.
As a family, we are putting more waste in the landfill and using more water with Harlan’s dialysis, and that did not sit well with us. We brainstormed to see how we could create a better balance with the environment. The extra water used could be partially abated by each adult giving up one shower a week. We also decided that it was time to really put the effort into collecting and using rainwater to water the gardens. The city of Albany allows its citizens to use rain barrels, and we use lots of containers to get water to use on the dry days for the gardens.
There are other people out in the world doing great things to make the world a better place. Recycling isn’t limited to the glass, plastic, cans and paper varieties. These days almost anything can be made into something else. Benjamin is a Cub Scout, and through Scouts we learned about The Laptop Project, which takes old laptops and tablets and reconditions them so that they are ready for children and families to use. Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca have been told that going on certain websites are helpful for school. Unfortunately, there was no way to get three kids on a computer on a regular basis. The whining would become maddening on the weekend over who had gone over the time on the timer by 13 seconds. The Laptop Project found out that we were seriously lacking in the hardware department for the kids. On the triplet’s 9th birthday they received a new laptop. We were all so happy.
A new laptop for the kids made us look around at the various pieces of hardware we did not use anymore. Sometimes a part was missing or needed to be repaired but for some reason but we couldn’t do it. We found out that The Laptop Project is always looking for donor machines to go to a new home or be used for parts. Recently Rebecca, Olivia and Benjamin each became the amazing proud owner of a Surface Pro and keyboard. The Laptop Project keeps old technology moving forward. I will be grateful for the many mitzvot Mordechai and Ra’anan at The Laptop Project have done as my kids keep learning with big smiles on their faces!
Our family has been blessed. Even in face of all the medical drama of the last two years, we are blessed and happy. In the last six months or so, Rebecca, Olivia and I decided to donate our hair. Most women and many men know how important hair is to the way people feel about themselves. I had the ability to donate 13 inches of hair to help someone who might be going through chemotherapy, Alopecia, burn recovery and many other reasons. Olivia and Rebecca each donated 9 inches. We chose to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. There are several choices for hair donations, and I made sure to look into all of them because after Olivia, Rebecca and I grew our hair for over two years I wanted to make sure we made the best choice. The program through Pantene does not charge wig recipients. A mitzvah for Pantene!
We all just want to make this world a better place, and there are so many opportunities to do good in your own little corner of the world.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 10-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. Follow her on Instagram: jennifersteuer.