NCJW’s Community Involvement in the Tampa Bay Area
Community Involvement that benefited the children, women, and immigrants of the Tampa Bay Area
Providing service to the community at large was a major part of the Tampa Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). Projects geared towards women, children, and immigrants were set up and members of NCJW were asked to volunteer. Many of these projects revolved around donations and fundraisers with the money raised ultimately going towards those in need. Some of the most prominent projects worked on by the Tampa Section of NCJW included; a Tonsillectomy Clinic, the Hillsborough Guidance Center, Ship-A-Box, and the Council Thrift Shop.
The Tonsillectomy clinic was created in the late forties and lasted until the organization faded away. Throughout its history, members of the Tampa Section of NCJW were asked to donate and volunteer at the clinic. Fundraisers were held periodically and whatever money was raised was given to a family in need, allowing for their child to receive the tonsil surgery they needed. By creating a project such as this one, children in need were aided and given the chance to receive a surgery that they otherwise would have never been able to receive because their parents would not have been able to afford it.
The Hillsborough Guidance Center was another important project that the Tampa Section of NCJW advocated for and asked their volunteers to participate with. The Guidance Center, when created, was a leader in mental health in Hillsborough County. It provided help to those who needed assistance whether it be they could not stay on their own for long periods of time or other matters. NCJW donated money to the center as a way to advocate for better mental health services and bring awareness to the lack of support that mentally disabled or mentally unhealthy people received.
Ship-A-Box was one of the biggest projects created by NCJW as a whole and was continued by the various sections individually. It was originally created during World War Two as a way to send clothes, food, and other necessities to Jewish families who had nothing because of the war. As time went on and conditions in Europe improved, focus shifted to the newly created state of Israel. Clothes, books, education material, toys, and other items were sent to women and children as a way to ensure that they always had the materials they needed to survive. Periodically throughout the year, the Tampa Section of NCJW would host a drive and collect items from members. The biggest collection of items was usually donated around the holidays and then sent off to either another location in the United States or to Europe and later on Israel.
The last and probably most influential project created by the Tampa Section of NCJW was the Council Thrift Shop. It was created at about the same time the organization was established in the Tampa Bay Area and closed its doors in the eighties after years of struggling to receive proper donations. Despite its eventual closure, the thrift shop was where most funds for the Tampa Section were raised. Members were encouraged to donate used clothes and other items throughout the year, especially around the holidays and springtime as a way for members to do a spring cleaning of their homes. Then the donated items were sold back to the community at large.
The National Council of Jewish Women revolves significantly around helping surrounding communities, specifically the underprivileged. The Tampa Section of NCJW participated in this idea by creating and funding projects such as a tonsillectomy clinic, the Hillsborough Guidance Center, Ship-A-Box, and the Council Thrift Shop. While each project focused on a different aspect of the community, from women to children to communities outside of the United States, their involvement in such projects sent the same message. Everyone deserves to be helped and acknowledged and it takes a community at large to provide such help at times.