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Thinking globally, giving locally

As a Jewish organization works on the nation's projects for the "Year of the Volunteer," local members give to a New Port Richey hospital.

A volunteer is defined as "one who gives help, does a service, or takes an obligation voluntarily."

If the United Nations has its way, you'll be hearing a lot of the word in the coming year.

The organization has declared 2001 the "Year of the Volunteer," which means 12 months of worldwide volunteer activities and recognition of those who help alleviate social problems at home and abroad.

One hundred twenty-three countries are participating in the effort, and each one has created its own project committee. The Jewish women's organization Hadassah was chosen to sit on the United States' steering committee, along with Points of Light and the Association of Junior Leagues International.

Diane Press of Port Richey, president of the Pasco Chapter of Hadassah, explained how her group decided to gather children's books to take to the pediatric ward at Community Hospital of New Port Richey as one of its projects.

The group held a book fair in November at the Jewish Community Center in Port Richey and asked individuals who were purchasing books to donate back to this cause. Then on Dec. 5, the day the United Nations kicked off its "Year of the Volunteer," members of the Pasco Chapter of Hadassah asked the youth at the Jewish Community Center's Congregation Beth Tefillah religious school to donate a book from their own bookshelf at home.

"This way the kids actually knew what was going on and why we were doing this," said Press, who also is a confirmation Sunday school teacher at Beth Tefillah. "Anyone who has given to others knows that the joy in giving is phenomenal."

On Wednesday morning Press, project chairwomen Mollie Sirner and Shirley Katz, and seven youths from the religious school delivered more than 200 books, stickers, markers and crayons to the hospital.

Elizabeth Moran, who was head duty nurse of the pediatric ward, gave the group a tour of the seven-bed ward. The school's youths colored and read to Troy Jardine, 5, a patient at the hospital. Moran said the donated books were most needed for the patients that had to stay in bed, and that books also will be used in the playroom.

The volunteers enjoyed the experience. "I liked the look on the boy's face. I was happy because he was happy," said 13-year-old Sarah Press, one of the youths who donated books and helped deliver them.

Katz said she wanted to do this project because she can relate to staying in the hospital and not having much to do.

"I love children, and this was a pleasure to bring them these books," said Katz, who has been a member of Hadassah for 11 years.

Press said the group is making plans for future volunteer projects, including donating items to the local domestic violence shelter.

Sirner, who has been a member of Hadassah for seven years, said she was pleased to see the younger generation take an interest in helping others.

Sirner said the project fits in with "Tikkun Olam, which means we are just trying to make a better world."

_ Angela Miller covers religion news in Pasco County. She can be reached in Dade City at (352) 521-5757, ext. 29, or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6108, then 29. Her e-mail address is angelasptimes.com

For information

For information on the local Chapter of Hadassah, call Diane Press at (727) 869-2181.

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