No parent or child should ever have to feel alone during their darkest times, even if those dark times happen to coincide with a social distancing mandate. This belief in community support is one long held by Chai Lifeline, an international Jewish nonprofit dedicated to supporting the families of severely ill children.

“We are all impacted by this global health crisis,” Chai Lifeline CEO Rabbi Simcha Scholar shared in a recent press release. “However, children with weakened immune systems and their families are particularly at-risk right now. In the past few days and weeks, we’ve seen a surge in demand for our services and we’re committed to helping everyone as best we can.”

The best Chai Lifeline can do, as it turns out, is quite a lot. Several weeks ago, the nonprofit announced that it would be launching a campaign to benefit families who have been heavily impacted by the spread of COVID-19. This campaign will amplify the work that the organization does during ordinary times, such as delivering meals to immunocompromised children’s homes or hospital rooms, providing transportation to medical appointments, conducting insurance advocacy, and offering personalized case management. In the pandemic, the need for those services has grown exponentially. Now, Chai Lifeline has assembled dedicated crisis teams to provide round-the-clock support to those who need it most. 

The nonprofit has also collaborated with other Jewish community organizations to establish a telephone hotline that could direct callers towards the local resources that could best serve their needs. Launched in partnership with Yad Yehuda, Hebrew Free Loan, and Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington, the hotline helps to provide both practical information and empathetic support. 

“One of the most painful places for anyone to be is the feeling of aloneness,” Yad Yehuda President Nechemia Mond told reporters for Washington Jewish Week of the hotline. According to Mond, service representatives at the nonprofit’s call centers will take the time to both ensure that callers’ immediate needs are met and walk them through stressful topics such as mortgage payments or applying for unemployment. 

The partners’ collaborative effort to support parents through this stressful time is commendable. Also worth mentioning, however, is Chai Lifeline’s initiative for children. In early April, the nonprofit’s Canadian branch announced that it would be deploying its “Toy Tank” to deliver toys, games, and crafts to dozens of homes — all in the hopes of lifting spirits and alleviating boredom due to social distancing measures. 

“Stay inside and we will bring the fun to your front door,” Chai Lifeline Canada’s Executive Director, Mordechai Rothman, shared for Toronto’s CTV News

The Toy Tank will be making its twice-weekly deliveries through April and potentially into May. Families can sign up to receive toys by visiting the Chai Lifeline Canada website. If you wish to donate toys to the effort, you can drop unopened boxes at Chai Lifeline’s offices in Toronto or submit your order via the nonprofit’s Amazon Wish List. 

From its unyielding support of parents to its willingness to go above and beyond for lonely children, Chai Lifeline has done an incredible amount to maintain a sense of community support during an isolating and uncertain time.