Some Israeli Teens Spend the Summer Break Volunteering

While most teenagers spend the summer vacation meeting friends, going to the beach and partying, some use the free time for volunteer work.

Jerusalemite Oshrit Iluz, who is going into the 12th-grade, and her mother report at 9 A.M. every day to the Meir Panim relief center's soup kitchen, where they and other volunteers prepare to serve 350 needy diners at noon.

"Nicole, the manager, starts cooking in the morning and we help her. We also clean up and put things in order," says Iluz.

"The diners arrive between noon and 2 P.M. and we serve them, pack them food and after they leave, clean up," she says.

Iluz usually finishes work at about 3 P.M.

"This is how I have fun on my vacation. I enjoy myself here and time flies," says Iluz, who has been volunteering during her summer break for the past three and a half years. She goes out with friends after work.

After the school year begins she will volunteer in the afternoons, she says.

Shaked Kiper, a rising 10th-grader from Gedera, began volunteering a week ago at the Let Animals Live shelter near Ramle. "I take care of the puppies and kittens," says Shaked, who works at the shelter three times a week, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.

"I give them fresh water and food, wash out the pens and help in the clinic. Sometimes I clean out the sick animals' cells."

"On the one hand I want to sleep until noon. On the other hand I'm contributing and not wasting the vacation by sleeping it away. I'm enjoying myself," she says.

Her parents encourage her activity, in part because unlike other teenagers her age, she does not spend all morning in bed.

Doron Elbaz, a rising 11th-grader from Herzliya, has been volunteering with SOS Pet Association's adoption drive, held every Saturday, since eighth grade. In ninth grade Elbaz became the organizer of the association's adoption day volunteers. He works throughout the school year.

"It gives me a very good feeling to know I'm helping, both the dogs, who get a lot of love, and the volunteers, who feel they belong and can contribute," he says.