By Sophie Zelony

CUTLINE Epstein School students show their commitment to service by participating in a Tu B’Shevat project in which a Kesher Garden was planted at the Sandy Springs school and in Israel. (photo by Coleen Lou)

Epstein School students show their commitment to service by participating in a Tu B’Shevat project in which a Kesher Garden was planted at the Sandy Springs school and in Israel. (photo by Coleen Lou)

The Epstein School is hosting a day of service open to the entire community Sunday, Nov. 1.

Service, an integral part of Epstein values, has brought families together in the past, but Yom Tzedakah this year will be the first time that Epstein has opened the event to everyone to expand the impact and showcase the Conservative day school’s dedication to service to the community.

Epstein is hoping for 550 to 600 participants.

Epstein has arranged 25 projects and is working on adding a few more. There are projects for people of all ages, skills and abilities. The options range from making cards for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and planting trees for Trees Atlanta to packing shelves for the Atlanta Community Food Bank and visiting seniors at Insignia of Sandy Springs.

Each project corresponds to various Jewish values, and a Jewish framework discussion about each site will kick off the day.

Each grade at Epstein has a theme of Jewish values that the students learn about. Yom Tzedakah reflects those themes and gives students and other participants another dimension of learning.

“I think it is meant to teach everybody,” volunteer coordinator Laura Blaskett said. “It is not just about Epstein kids, but it teaches everybody the values of giving themselves to a project. … It is opening eyes to areas and opportunities and events in the community that perhaps they don’t normally see.”

Outreach coordinator Robyn Faintich said: “A big point of clarification is the teacher in fifth grade is not taking the fifth-grade class to a site. We are really committed to the roles that volunteers can play as families, so we really want people to register as family units.”

The hope is that exposing whole families to service projects will lead the families to incorporate service into their ongoing activities rather than just spend one day a year doing service.

Epstein’s new head of school, David Abusch-Magder, has been involved with the program planning and is excited to showcase Epstein’s commitment to volunteering and to Jewish values.

“I am happy to be a part of a community that values character education and giving back to the greater community … and am excited to participate in a wonderful volunteer program like Yom Tzedakah,” he said. “Community volunteer programs are an important part of helping our students develop good character and a giving spirit. Modeling that behavior for our students is a key to successfully raising children to become engaged and caring adults who recognize their responsibility to make the world a better place,” the value of tikkun olam.

Epstein’s leadership team is looking for volunteers to be site captains. Site captains relay information between the staff at a project site and the Yom Tzedakah volunteers. They take photos at the sites and submit evaluations of how the projects went.

Anyone in the community may be a site captain.

The online registration portal for volunteering will be open to the public in September. The registration form allows you to submit first, second and third choices of projects. Some locations have age minimums or capacity limits, but the goal is for each registrant to get one of those top three choices.

To register your interest before the registration page goes live, to keep up with the event or to learn more about the projects, go to www.facebook.com/events/460793990752849.