Project H.O.P.E., which stands for Help Our People Everywhere, has run in the area for more than 40 years, nearly 30 of those years under the leadership of Harold Miller.
On Sunday, community volunteers joined Project H.O.P.E. to create packages of food to be shipped to local Jewish communities — 90 packages to Bridgeport, 25 packages to New London, 120 to stay in New Haven and 40 to remain at Tower One, the packaging site.
“When they go to the markets, the prices are higher because it’s a specialty item,” Miller said.
By buying in bulk and through charitable contributions, Project H.O.P.E. has found a more affordable way to give needy and elderly Jews in the tri-state area the foods they need.
The diet for Passover, which celebrates Jewish freedom from Egypt, requires observers to avoid leavened bread, as it is said the Jews were made to cross through the Red Sea without having time to bake the bread. Volunteers package the Passover carbohydrate staple, matzo, with other holiday-appropriate canned and boxed foods such as juices, borscht, macaroons and jams.
Miller said he coordinates with local food agencies to determine the demand and he takes care of the arrangements.
“We get tremendous prices,” he said. “We think we’re playing a role for people who need the help and want to keep up the spirit of the holiday.”
Ben Atwater, a senior at the University of New Haven who is helping to launch two fledgling Hillel organizations at that university and Southern Connecticut State University, brought about 10 university students to help with the packaging of the food.
“We figured it would be good to have us do a community service project. This is our first one,” he said, as the organization is looking to gain momentum and legitimacy in its infancy at both campuses.
Simon Tishkof, a student at Beecher Road Elementary School in Woodbridge, was there with some in his Boy Scout troop. He said, regardless of the specific purpose, he was helping to package food because he wanted to help.
Bobbie Miller, Harold’s wife, said she has participated in the activity with her husband annually.
“What I like about it is it’s all of the groups — young, old and in between — and people come year after year,” she said.