This year, Super Sunday — the annual fund-raiser of the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks — will have a broader embrace than ever before.
The event, scheduled for Nov. 21 at Rider University in Lawrenceville, will feature — in addition to the traditional phonathon — vendors, programs, talks, and activities for the whole family. To make all that happen, the organizers are hoping for a big turnout of volunteers.
Andrew Frank, federation executive director, said, “Of course, we still want to keep the focus on raising funds, but for the first time it will also be a day of community outreach and celebration.”
All those people making calls bring in a significant chunk of the federation’s annual campaign — 10-13 percent of the total — and this year hopes are that pledges will top $210,000. But the organizers also want to show just what such generosity achieves.
The event could also give a taste of what it will feel like when the new Jewish Community Campus, so long in the planning, finally opens in the next couple of years.
Super Sunday is cosponsored with the JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, Greenwood House, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer, and area synagogues.
Frank said, “We want to show people the impact of how their dollars are spent, that they don’t just go into some deep hole. They go to real agencies to benefit real people.”
Penny Pierce of Plainsboro and Judy Bortnick of East Windsor are cochairing the event. From the start, the two friends — both frequent volunteers at federation events — have worked closely on the planning. When they came up with the idea of creating “a great family fun day” in addition to a fund-raiser, they said, the federation staff “caught the fever.”
“Penny and I share our responsibilities well, each adding experience and enthusiasm to the planning process,” Bortnick said. We have worked on Super Sunday planning and events in the past and know what an important day this is to the federation.”
Children are involved in the day too. In conjunction with federation and the JCC, the Principals Council of Synagogue Hebrew Schools provided students with tzedaka boxes at the beginning of the school year, together with a leaflet explaining where their donations go. The boxes, designed by federation board member Paul Schindel, will be brought to the event so the students can deliver their contributions.
Family participation is a vital part of the organizers’ vision. Bortnick said her own children, Laura, 16, and Andrew, 14, have worked the Super Sunday phones the past two years. “They say that their participation has motivated them to do more in the community,” she said. “Since I volunteer at the JF&CS foodbank and my kids are in the Jewish Community Youth Foundation and help in JCC community events, it really is a family effort.”
JF&CS executive director Linda Meisel said the agency will participate in a panel discussion for caregivers. People are also asked to bring in donations of personal and household products to help restock the JF&CS Food Pantry, which has been facing increasing demands as the economy has worsened.
Meisel also pointed out that 15 percent of the agency’s budget comes from the federation.
For the JCC, there will be a reunion of its summer campers, and a rare coming-together for participants in its various programs. Since selling its building a while back, the organization has been, as its president, Donald Leibowitz of West Windsor, put it, “a JCC-without-walls,” borrowing space at Rider for its summer camp and at other venues across the region.
Leibowitz, a former federation president, said he hopes that the warm, welcoming atmosphere of the day will entice those who are not familiar with federation to come and learn about the importance of its work, and perhaps to support it. “And maybe those who do give will be inspired to give more,” he said. “We’ve never done an event this widely based before. It would be great if it gets people talking to their friends about federation — even if it’s a week later or a month later.”