In these days of economic downturn, donors to charities want to know that their donations are going to those who need them the most, and Yad Eliezer (yadeliezer.org) is a model charity.
Ever since Hadassa Weisel founded a grass-roots organization to help out neighbors who didn't have enough to eat, Yad Eliezer has grown to distribute thousands of packages of food every week to Israel's neediest.
With the help of industrious volunteers, the organization keeps overheads down to an incredible 8 percent or less, allowing more money to go straight to those who need it most. This careful money management and transparent bookkeeping earned Yad Eliezer the highest rating of U.S. charity assessor Charity Star Navigator for five years running.
In fact, one volunteer recalls that two Israel Tax Authority officials were so impressed by Yad Eliezer's books that they even signed up for a donation!
Yad Eliezer takes its management so seriously because it knows so many depend on its services, and still more are on its waiting lists.
What do we do?
The charity's flagship "meals on wheels" enterprise distributes food to the most hungry in Israel, especially those who are house-bound. Thousands of food parcels are handed out, and before the Jewish holidays the activity is intensified, with the distribution of tons of chickens, thousands of bottles of wine, and other essentials.
Last December, at the height of the onslaught of rockets from Gaza, Yad Eliezer geared up for a unique challenge. Within 24 hours of the outbreak of war, Yad Eliezer volunteers prepared some 8,500 CARE packages for Israeli soldiers in battle. More help came from abroad, with community leaders such as Rabbi Sam Klibinoff of Atlantic Beach organizing warm clothing and other donations to support Israel's bravest.
Yad Eliezer's emergency fund provides millions of dollars for special cases, be it fixing roofs, providing heaters for the winter, or offering support for rare medical treatments. Of course, the list of requests for such services is very long, and in today's economic climate, it just keeps growing.
A special fund provides formula for 2,000 infants whose mothers are too malnourished to nurse. A joint governmental-Yad Eliezer project runs free youth dental clinics (with heavily subsidized service for poor adults), providing vital dental care to those who could never afford it.
Yad Eliezer also runs its own wedding hall for needy couples. Generous newlyweds can "adopt a wedding" through Yad Eliezer, giving some of their own gifts to fund a celebration for couples who are less privileged.
Yad Eliezer - where giving is a hands-on activity