Jewish Family Services in OP honors long-time volunteer who helps deliver meals to those in need each Hanukkah

Despite the health and safety risks of a global pandemic, one long-time volunteer at Jewish Family Services and her son continue to step up and help reach families going through tough times. Above, Susan Kivett delivered gifts to some of the 350 clients served by Jewish Family Services. Photo courtesy Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City.

Despite the health and safety risks of a global pandemic, one long-time volunteer at Jewish Family Services and her son continue to step up and help reach families going through tough times.

Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City recently highlighted the work of Susan Kivett and her 18-year-old son, Gabe, as they both volunteer with the organization’s various holiday projects. Particularly important to the Kivetts is helping with the food pantry and delivering gifts and meals.

“It’s tikkun olam, and it is important we instill in our kids that we are fortunate,” Kivett said, using the Hebrew phrase often interpreted as “mend” or “repair the world.”

The way Kivett sees it, volunteering with Jewish Family Services is an opportunity to give back.

Kivett began helping with JFS about nine years ago and almost always had her son with her, along with her daughter, Rachel, who has helped out as well.

“He was little when he first came in, maybe about 7 years old,” Kivett said of Gabe. “He’s wrapped with me during the Hanukkah Project and comes to the food pantry, but our passion is delivering High Holiday meals.”

Kivett said her son was about 12 years old when he truly started to understand the impact of their volunteer efforts.

“A light bulb went off in his head, and he said, ‘Mom, these people wouldn’t be able to have the holiday if we didn’t bring them a meal,’” Kivett said.

Kivett reflected on one particularly memorable experience, when she provided food assistance for a family of five children and their mother. The woman’s husband had left her soon after her baby was born.

“Knowing we were there for her to have one less burden to worry about meant so much,” Kivett said. “It’s such a meaningful experience to know you are helping other people. We’re providing one less stress of feeding their families.”

This year, Hanukkah — which is often called the “Festival of Lights” — began on Thursday, Dec. 10, and ends Friday, Dec. 18.