JFS Orlando needs our help to be able to help those in need


April 10, 2020

Executive Director Phil Flynn

"What JFS Orlando does is the essence of being Jewish," said Dick Weiner of the agency he strongly supports and firmly believes is one of the most important agencies in the community. "The essence of being Jewish is helping anyone in need-Jew or non-Jew."

Through this pandemic, the JFS Orlando staff has been working long hours to meet the needs of this community-no matter who is in need. What was on average 18 to 20 families in need of food has become 68 to 70 families daily coming to JFS Orlando's Pearlman Pantry.

It is very clear the agency needs the Jewish community's help-but not in the form of food donations. The agency is closed to the public and is not accepting food donations at this time because, as Executive Director Phil Flynn puts it "we have a protective bubble around us." They can't accept food because simply put, COVID-19 sticks to surfaces. The volunteer staff (which is already overwhelmed) would have to spend hours constantly desanitizing product and shelves as they classify and stock the Pearlman Pantry, only to immediately package supplies for those in need.

What is desperately needed is cold, hard cash.

"Cash is king!" is how Flynn stated it. "First of all, it is safer. And second, it will go much further than food donations. For example, one dollar will buy six dollars worth of food from the food bank," he explained. That translates to $100 would purchase $600 worth of food from the food bank.

Buying food from Second Harvest Food Bank is also much easier and faster. The food is prepackaged in a specific way and government approved. One person can be in and out quickly.

Flynn said on average, food was ordered every three weeks, but right now, food is ordered every four days.

Also, to meet the growing need, JFS Orlando just bought two 54" commercial freezers to be able to stock more food. "This was made possible by the Jewish Capital Alliance," Flynn said.

There are several ways to help:

The Restock Challenge

Heritage has been running articles about the Challenge, with the addition of the matching funds from The Weiner Family and The Winter Park Wealth Group. For every $1 donated, they will match $0.50. As Flynn stated, "cash is king!" and with the matching funds, gift donations will go a lot further. To give, please mail your donation to JFS Orlando, The George & Madeline Wolly Center Restock Challenge, 2100 Lee Road, Winter Park, FL 32789 or go to http://www.JFSorlando.org/restock-challenge-2020.

Scott & Cellar Fundraiser

All this month, JFS Orlando is holding an online fundraiser, hosted by Megan Minkow Kessler, who is an independent consultant with Scout & Cellar, the direct to consumer Clean-Crafted wine company. Order Scout & Cellar wine online (scout&cellar.com) and Kessler will donate 10 percent of the purchase to JFS. Contact Kessler at megankessler32@gmail.com for more information.


This writer shops on Amazon all the time and often uses AmazonSmile. It is easy to do. Go to smile.amazon.com and select Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando, Inc. as your charity. For every purchase made through AmazonSmile, they will donate .5 percent of your purchase to JFS. How easy is that?

COVID-19 Emergency Fundraiser

JFS Orlando volunteers and staff are working throughout this pandemic, which means overhead costs must still be met. This fundraiser will help JFS Orlando provide food for those in need, mental health counseling (continuing now through telemedicine) and prevent homelessness through the Family Stabilization Program, which helps give a "hand-up" to families facing possible homelessness.

• $50 will supply a week's worth of food for a family.

• $100 provides two roundtrip rides to medical appointments for a senior or disabled adult.

• $250 will help continue stabilization case management for a family on the brink of homelessness.

• $500 will provide access to telehealth for clients to continue to meet with their personal therapists.

Flynn doesn't believe in turning anyone away. "If you need, we will provide," he said. But at the same time, JFS Orlando is overwhelmed and really needs the support and financial help the Jewish community can give.


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