A thousand and five hundred citizens in the neighborhoods of Netanya East gathered on the morning of October 7th to joyfully celebrate the holiday of Simchat Torah. As the horrific news began to trickle, the Kiryat Hasharon Community Center turned from a social hall to an emergency hub. Since then and around the clock, the 350 staff members and 400 volunteers under the leadership of Smadar Dromy, the Executive Director of the Netanya East Community Centers (Kiryat HaSharon, Hefziba, Neot Ganim), tirelessly serve every need:
A Logistical Center that provides a variety of goods from clothes and food to toiletries, games, towels, linen, strollers, and more. Theses goods are then delivered to the several thousand evacuees that are spread in hotels and homes all over the city.
Another section is dedicated to the needs of soldiers in units that are spread all over the country. In an orderly fashion hundreds of boxes are packed and then delivered by volunteer drivers to various army units. A personal care letter written by the local citizens is inserted into each and every box.
All the goods are donated by individuals and companies alike. Some of the donations are very special as they come from families who have immigrated from Ethiopia and belong to the Hefziba Community Center. While their income may be modest, it is important for them to share what they have and feel part of the community drive.
The Community Centers help the families of 3000 evacuees that are staying at local hotels or at private homes. They provide professional support and run recreational and educational programs: from enrichment programs, to youth programs and even opening an ad hoc kindergarten in one of the hotels. Last Saturday they organized a Bar Mitzvah from A to Z. Some of the Kibbutzim that have been evacuated to Netanya are second and third timers, having fled the Gaza region to Netanya during previous military operations.
Community volunteers under the auspices of the Community Centers also organized a local Civil Guard with more than 1000 volunteers to endure the safety and security of citizens.
Sadly, in these neighborhoods there are families of 8 fallen soldiers and citizens. Community Center staff members and volunteers are embracing them. From sending cooked meals to arranging for Shiva tents and coming to visit them every day. These families are going to be adopted and not forgotten by the community.