Lucy Ronson Allolouf of London just marked the momentous occasion of her bat mitzvah, a memorable event in the life of any child. Yet what makes it even more remarkable was that in the months leading up to this day, she pondered how she could best celebrate in a way that would give back to the community and share with others.

During a recent visit with her parents to Israel, the Alloloufs, who were touched by their daughter’s initiative, toured several organizations, but it was Shalva that really hit home.

Nicole Ronson Allolouf, who heads The Gerald Ronson Charitable Foundation in UK, is Lucy’s proud mom. “Lucy has an amazing heart and always thinks of others before herself. All she wanted to do for her bat mitzvah was raise money for others and do something for children less fortunate than her.”

Lucy shares her story: “When I went to Israel with my family, I visited a very special place—the new Shalva National Center in Jerusalem. Every day, 1,000 children with disabilities come to the Center to get therapies that they need and join different programs. The Center is beautiful, with bright colors and butterflies all around. It has everything you can imagine to help babies and children with disabilities have the best chance in life.”

During the Alloloufs’ tour of Shalva, Lucy was introduced to kids in Ofek, Shalva’s after-school program where children with special needs enjoy a wide variety of activities including music, art, swimming, animal therapy, judo, and sports. It was there that she met ten kids right around her age, girls and boys all turning 12 and 13 this year.

“When I met these kids, I knew that I wanted to make sure that they’d have a bar and bat mitzvah program and celebration to remember, a meaningful celebration so they could join me in my journey of taking on more responsibility and being an adult and part of the community!” she exclaims. And indeed, the spirited London pre-teen was determined to realize her goal.

As a talented artist who draws and paints, Lucy hoped to sell some of her artwork in order to raise £5000, which was the goal she set in order to sponsor a gala bar-bat mitzvah celebration for her ten new friends at Shalva. Amazingly, Lucy surpassed her original goal by far, raising close to £9000 for the event! When asked if she feels proud of her accomplishments, she admits with a shy grin, “Very proud!”

Lucy’s campaign went viral, and in the meanwhile, Shalva staff and kids in Israel began preparing for the gala event which took place this week, Tuesday, May 29, at Shalva National Center’s Yahalom Hall.

Each of the ten guests of honor invited up to 6 members of his or her family, was treated to brand new festive clothing, and the girls had their hair and makeup done before the party. The sumptuous banquet, with catering generously provided by Café Shalva, was a royal affair featuring live music by Shalva Band, breathtaking centerpieces prepared in the Shalva flower-arranging course, and a special presentation by key Shalva personnel.

Shalva Chairman Avi Samuels expresses, “It’s amazing to see a kid from England who comes here and appreciates the value of giving, the value of inclusion, of being with these kids, contributing to them, celebrating with them, and raising funds to help them with their programs. Just being there, dancing together, preparing the special things that happened during this beautiful evening all together with such pleasure and such happiness, was truly a highlight in my life.

“I’m so grateful to Lucy, to her dear parents and the extended family for believing in Shalva’s mission, for being part of it, and for sharing their beautiful simchah with us in the most amazing way here at Shalva.”