Isabella Malaga, 13, of Boca Raton, recently decided to give the gift of play to homeless children for her bat mitzvah project.
Malaga asked family and friends to save their change in the Houses for Change house-shaped, cardboard tzedakah (charity) boxes she distributed to guests before her celebration at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton in May.
The new playground is at the Family Promise Day Center in Delray.
Volunteers from local churches, synagogues and other community groups alternate between serving food and providing company for homeless families in the Family Promise interfaith network.
Malaga volunteered by serving food and playing with the children, but was dismayed that the children didn’t have a playground.
“We have raised Isabella to be philanthropic and to think the same way we do,” said her father, Marc. “She’s involved in many different charities, but she took a liking to this one and decided to help out the children.”
Isabella also convinced Mike Skiera, owner of The Hitching Post backyard specialty store in Delray Beach, to contribute a playground set.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with Isabella and the good people of Family Promise on the donation of this play set,” Skiera said. “We hope it will bring hours of happiness to the children and we are honored they brought us this request.”
Houses for Change was founded by B’nai Torah member Mark Wasserman, of Boca Raton, who came up with the idea for the house-shaped tzedakah boxes four years ago to raise money and awareness for the homeless and provide an experiential project for kids.
Wasserman said that in the past four years 30,000 kids across the country have raised $400,000 for homeless charities through Houses for Change. Locally, $6,000 has been raised for Family Promise of South Palm Beach County.
For more information, visit http://www.familypromise.org/housesforchange or contact Wasserman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-699-5116.