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Fly-A-Cake: Making a Difference and Bringing Hope to Victims of Terror and their Families

Published in the Jerusalem Post newspaper

Hundreds of innocent Israelis have lost their lives over the last few months. Their smiling faces forever frozen in time, stare up at us as we sip our coffee over the morning newspaper. Every day it seems, there are more funerals, more tragic losses. In those same sad articles, we read about the numbers of injured - some lightly wounded, others in serious or critical condition. There are no photographs of these other victims, and after their brief, anonymous mention on the day of an attack, they recede into the past and disappear from our thoughts.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of Israelis who are battling the physical and emotional after-effects of falling victim to a terrorist attack. Many have been hospitalized for months while others are at rehabilitation centers or at home, struggling to come to terms with their injuries. For so many of the families of these injured survivors, life is changed forever.

A few months ago, an American company Fly-a-Cake, recognizing the needs of victims of terror and their families launched a non-profit initiative to offer them help and support. It all began around the time of Purim, with the tradition of sending packages (shaloch manot) to friends and family. The company, which has a branch in Israel, put together a hundred and fifty gift baskets, thanks to donations from all over the world, and delivered them to victims of terror. The response was so overwhelming, that Fly-a-Cake has continued to fill this much-needed role. Today, Fly-a-Cake receives donations via advertisements on websites such as the Jerusalem Post, Arutz Sheva, and the New York Post, which enables it to assemble care packages that are delivered by groups of volunteers to victims and their families. Each package contains a loving message from the donor and a code affording the recipient the opportunity to make contact.

One volunteer named Linda, asks herself the same question every time she goes to deliver care packages to hospitals: Can a box of chocolates and a bag a cookies offer comfort and solace to the victims of terror? The experiences of volunteers have shown that the answer, overwhelmingly, is yes!

Linda relates the story of a recent visit to victim Sharon Chaim ben Gila. He was injured in an attack in downtown Jerusalem in December last year, and has endured seven months of surgery and rehabilitation. Sharon is a quadriplegic and he is unable to speak due to the position of an inoperable nail in his brain. Gila, a mother of nine children, welcomed the volunteers warmly and explained how fortunate she feels that her son is alive. "For her," related Linda, "the visit meant that people remember her son's plight. She so needs the reminder that people care -- even people she will never meet."

This sentiment is echoed in the many letters, and phone calls that pour in to the Fly-a-Cake offices on a daily basis. Writes Shoshana, another victim, "I received your delivery a couple of days ago. I was so surprised! I want to thank all the people who volunteer for this organization. Thanks for your caring and support." In a phonecall to Fly-a-Cake, the wife of a terror victim from an attack three months before, repeated over and over again how touched she was by the package that she had received. She explained that the attention made a huge difference to them, and that it reaffirmed that there are so many good people out there who truly do care about them.

It is not only the recipients who express appreciation, but the volunteers themselves. Volunteering affords them the opportunity to do something positive to improve so many fractured lives. A volunteer, Emunah, expresses it best in a note to Fly-a-Cake: " I want you to know that the gift packages you wonderful people made possible for us to bring to our hospitals for those wounded in terrorist attacks, were greatly appreciated. For my part I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this act of kindness. I went to the hospitals to strengthen the injured and I left being strengthened by them."
In addition to its initiative to send care packages to victims of terror, Fly-a-Cake has also launched a campaign called "Kids Unite for Israel" that aims to uplift the spirits of child victims and enrich their shattered lives. Schoolchildren the world over, are invited to express their concern for their Israeli brothers and sisters by drawing pictures for them or writing them messages of support. The children's creations are attached to care packages and delivered to young terror victims by Fly-a-Cake volunteers.
Fly-a-Cake has recently set up a tzedakah (charitable) fund. The need for such a fund became clear during the conversations between volunteers and victims' families. As a result of a terror attack, many victims and their families are plunged into financial distress. A mother of four for example, who lost one of her children in the Rishon L'Tzion bombing, and was herself injured in the attack, is now confined to a wheelchair. She lives in a second floor apartment and cannot leave her home unless a railing is built. However, she does not have the money to provide it. There are families that need long-term support and families that just need help getting through this most difficult time.

It is not difficult to make a difference in the life of a victim of terror. You do not have to donate lots of money or change your lifestyle. You simply have to care. Fly-a-Cake enables you to touch a victim's life, to reach out through a note attached to a simple package. This tiny act speaks volumes to victims who feel isolated, forgotten and hopeless.

Perhaps this incident sums it up best: Last week, a deliveryman arrived at the Fly-A-Cake bakery, and noticed all the care packages awaiting delivery to victims of terror. Visibly moved, he looked at the staff and said, "So, it's you guys who do this!" He had been sitting with family at his first cousin's bedside at the Intensive Care Unit of Hadassah Hospital, when a volunteer quietly placed a care package on the table, wished them well and left. The family had wanted to open the package to eat the treats inside, however the mother of the boy, quickly got up and said, "Do you think they came all this way to bring care packages for us to eat? This care package is to give us hope that one day my son will be able to get up and open this package, and read the greetings himself!"

Mailing address: 14 Bloch St.
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D.N. Harei Yehuda
Kiryat Telz Stone
Israel 90840

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E-mail: main@supportvictims.org