On the evening of Wednesday, March 15, Grade Seven and Eight students went downtown after school to participate in Pay it Forward Purim.

Pay it Forward Purim is an annual program where students from Grade Seven and Eight, along with their parents, go to give out gift bags (Matanot Le’evyonim) to Toronto’s homeless, in the spirit of Purim. Every receiver was given a gift bag which included valuable items, such as home made hamentachen, chocolate bars, granola bars, socks, mitts and hats. The twist was every recipient was given two bags. The purpose of this second bag was so that the people who received these gifts would be empowered to give a gift to someone else in need. They would be able to ‘pay it forward’.

In order to fill the gift bags, each grade was responsible for bringing one item. Then the bags were loaded with the clothes, food, and friendly cards that the Elementary and Junior High students wrote.

At the beginning of the night, many of us were nervous to give out the gift bags, but as the night went on it became easier for us to approach a homeless person and offer a present.

A valuable lesson that we learned was that even though we may fear someone else, they are people, the same as us. The most important thing is to treat them with respect, compassion and understanding.

Written by Abie Urowitz Kaufman and Daniel Rubinoff