RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Volunteers in two of Brazil’s largest Jewish communities have collected nearly 70,000 winter coats for the needy during two independent campaigns this month.
In Sao Paulo, some 24,000 coats were collected on Sunday during the sixteenth edition of the annual Jewish-led winter campaign. Some 400 Jewish youths rode trucks loaded with speakers through the streets of Higienopolis, a upscale neighborhood with a large concentration of Jews.
Donors also could drop off coats in collection boxes in a major local square, which organizers called “citizenship drive-thru.” Some thirty Jewish institutions also served as collection sites in the city, which is home to nearly half of Brazil’s 120,000 Jews.
“We are very honored. The concept of building a better world and leaving a legacy is part of our DNA. The Jewish community has this duty toward the larger society,” said Bruno Laskowsky, president of the Sao Paulo Jewish federation.
In Porto Alegre, the capital city of Brazil’s southernmost and coldest state of Rio Grande do Sul, some 45,000 coats were gathered on June 5. On “Iom Mitzvah,” Hebrew for “good deed day,” trucks got packed with clothes and blankets as they rode through central neighborhoods. Donations have beefed up the local government-led winter campaign.
A unusual obstacle was overcome in Porto Alegre after some 5,000 coats were stolen from the storage area at the Hebraica club. Volunteers expanded the calls and new donations were undertaken in Porto Alegre, home to some 12,000 Jews.
Unlike in the vast majority of the country, overnight temperatures can commonly reach between 0-10 degrees Celsius, or 32 to 50 degrees Farenheit, during the winter in both cities.