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Getting Involved - Yashar LaChayal

By Paula Stern
9/16/2009, 12:00 AM
One of the things that happens when you become a soldier's mother, is that you begin to make connections with other families whose sons serve, other soldiers. You share their worries, their concerns, their pride. I've made so many connections over the last two years - a network of mothers and fathers here in Israel and around the world, even current and former soldiers. You learn very quickly that there is family beyond family; sons that become yours, concerns and realities beyond your borders. Along the way, I also began to work with an organization that takes helping soldiers to a whole new level. Please bear with me - I don't do this often, but this is so important.

Unlike most charity organizations, all the money this organization raises goes directly to the soldiers (thus the name Yashar LaChayal, direct to the soldier). They often assist in very personal ways, sometimes as personal as you can get. When soldiers went into Gaza and came out, Yashar LaChayal was there with clean underwear, deodorant, and even shampoo.

They gave gloves, long underwear, anything that was needed. They've donated refrigerators and washing machines to soldiers from needy families, send packages to lone soldiers, and so much more.Their site is full of all the ways they have helped soldiers since the organization was founded during the Second Lebanon War and so I won't list them here. On their website, they give an example of a simple mother's plea, and how they responded.

From Yashar LaChayal website: “My son is cold,” says one mother, and within days, her son’s unit was given thermal pants and socks.

A few months ago, they asked me to join the Amuta as a Board Member. It was an easy answer for me because I know first hand the work they do, and some of the people they have helped. Several years ago, I drove to the Lebanese border for this organization to deliver supplies to a unit that was just about to enter Lebanon. A few months ago, I drove south to deliver supplies to a unit stationed outside Gaza and experienced my one and only Color Red in Ashkelon on the way.

In the last few days, Yashar LaChayal has sent around this note about their work and the upcoming holidays. I'm posting it here because if you make a habit of donating a small bit of charity before Rosh Hashana, I hope you'll consider this organization and send aid directly to our soldiers:

Rosh Hashana is a time when we traditionally look forward and backwards. We close one year and look forward to the challenges that will face us in the future. It is hard to imagine that a year ago, we had only an inkling that Israel might find itself, yet again, embroiled in war. Now, as we close this year and welcome the new one, we once again reflect on Israel, where it is, what it has experienced this past year, and where we hope its future lies. We also do it with a sense of pride because once again, just as our soldiers were challenged to meet our enemies on the battlefield, our country was challenged to meet the needs of our  soldiers, to show them that they are important to us, their concerns ours.

Israel has been, since its establishment in 1948, a nation at war. It asks, even demands daily sacrifices from its sons and daughters. If Israelis live relatively normal lives, going to work, raising their children, celebrating the milestones just as people all over the world do, it is because behind it...and in front of it...stands it soldiers. When all goes well, the soldiers provide for Israel's security and Israel provides for its soldiers.

This is where our organization has stepped in, again and again. The army simply can't meet all the needs and soldiers are forced to stand their ground or make do with what they have, Yashar LaChayal steps in. This was
the case during the Second Lebanon War, and again during the recent Gaza War. This is the case on an almost daily basis, beyond the needs of war.

Recently when a lone soldier, someone whose family doesn't live in Israel, found himself without something as simple as army socks on an isolated base with no way to get off base to purchase the socks and no money even if he found the time, his mother was frantic. From somewhere in the middle of the United States, she contacted a friend in Israel, begging her to find a way to help her son. The friend turned to Yashar LaChayal, who immediately arranged a special delivery so that the soldier received not only the warm socks he needed, but a supply of other warm clothes for the winter. You can follow our progress at:

http://yasharlachayal.org/index.php?/successes/other_projects/

Yashar LaChayal is guided by one simple principle - all must go directly to the soldiers.

The number of soldiers we have touched in the last year easily reaches into the tens of thousands and we have so much more we would like to do, that we need to do. As the New Year approaches, we hope you will investigate our worthy organization (our website is: www.yasharlachayal.com) and join many others who have come to support our efforts. Please take a moment to write to friends and family and ask them to support Yashar LaChayal as well.

May you and your family, and all of Israel, be granted a year of health and safety, happiness and peace.