Posted by Naomi Gurt Lind

Kids playingIn December of 2008, I found myself in an unprecedented position. My husband was out of work and had no prospects we could see and our sons were ages four and one. In the preceding months, we'd gone from being bookstore people to being library people, from restaurant people to home-cooking people, from toy store people to hand-me-down people. We'd cancelled our traditional December trip to visit my extended family in Michigan because we couldn't afford to travel. What is customarily an exciting time of celebration, family get-togethers, and gifts was shaping up, for us, to be a time of uncertainty and isolation.

Through the kindness of a friend, I received a gift card to a local store that carried children's clothing, toys, and books. One afternoon, I went there while my husband stayed with the boys at home. It gave me such pleasure to shop for gifts for my sons! I must have spent an hour in that store, calculating how much I could afford, speculating what each boy would like, weighing the options, and imagining the boys' faces as they opened their gifts.

My thoughts paled next to the reality.

By tremendous good luck, an old college friend happened to be in town on the first night of Chanukkah that year. He joined us for latkes and soup and home-baked gingerbread and after dinner we sat in the living room and made music while the boys opened and played with their presents – a book for Akiva and a toy for Gideon.

My family's experience that year gave me a perspective I will never forget, and because of it, I'm honored to be coordinating the JF&CS Holiday Gift Card Drive. Now in its 11th year, the Holiday Gift Card Drive brings both relief and joy to struggling families by enabling them to give their children holiday gifts. Through the kindness of generous donors, we provide $25 gift cards to our client families – one card per child – so that they, too, might experience a pleasure that many of us take for granted.

Learn more about the Center for Family Assistance and make a donation to the Holiday Gift Card Drive today. Please feel free to email me at with any questions.

Naomi Gurt LindNaomi Gurt Lind joined JF&CS in September as the Basic Needs Department Assistant. In addition to her work and her involvement in the Jewish community, Naomi enjoys writing, reading, cooking, crossword puzzles, and spending time with her family. A trained singer and actor, she performs regularly with the Zamir Chorale.