As part of this year's Purim celebration, students of Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in Northridge offered helping hands at five social action programs in the area.
Purim is a Jewish holiday commemorating the victory of Persian Jews over the threat of annihilation.
"Purim is [usually] a carnival-type of activity, and our students will go back to enjoy that at their school. But now we've expanded it because we're realizing how important it is for us to reach out to other people and to help out in any way that we can," said Margo Pensavalle, assistant principal at Heschel.
Pensavalle led a group of 20 students to assist MEND, an acronym for Meeting Each Need with Dignity, a Pacoima-based program that provides food and clothing for the needy, as well as job training and English-language courses.
During their brief stay at MEND, the students sorted clothing, filled holiday baskets with toys and candy and tutored English-language students.
"We usually have a carnival on Purim, but it's nice to help others and I feel good about it," said eighth-grader Danny Michrowski, 13.
In Los Angeles, 40 students served lunch at A Place Called Home, an educational institute that provides after-school and weekend programs for inner-city children.
In Santa Monica, 20 students assisted the Heal the Bay program by picking up litter on the beach, while another 30 served lunch at the Chrysalis Center, which provides food and clothing for the homeless.
Ten students read stories to children at Vista del Mar's Julia Ann Singer Center, a Culver City-based facility for youths with learning disabilities.