GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Some local residents who do not celebrate Christmas still participated in its theme of giving to others.
About 40 volunteers went to Seashore Gardens Living Center on Tuesday to help relieve some employees so they could be off for the holiday.
The annual day of service has been going on for more than 20 years, said Linwood resident Allen Kleiner, who along with his wife, Eve, took over coordinating the event from founders Lowell and Bella Gluck after they died.
Allen Kleiner said volunteers originally were members of the Jewish community but that over the years people of all faiths have come together to help out.
“We get a real cross-section of the community,” he said. “A lot of the volunteers, including myself, have had (relatives) stay at Seashore Gardens. They are giving, which is what Seashore Gardens does.”
Eve Kleiner said the volunteers cleaned, made beds, helped with maintenance, prepared and served food, transported residents, assisted in prayer services and ran entertainment such as arts and crafts and bingo. They usually get about 60 volunteers to help out, but many of the regulars live on Absecon Island and are displaced due to property damage from Hurricane Sandy, she said.
Margate resident Shirley Kotzker volunteered on Christmas as she has for the past few years.
“It’s the right thing to do. It’s a good feeling to help out,” she said.
Kotzker added that she did not know what else she would do on Christmas.
“See a movie?” she said with a laugh. “What do most Jewish people do?”
Cynthia Weinraub, assistant director of recreation at the facility, said the volunteers were active throughout the entire building.
“Even for the people who are here working, it helps with the morale,” she said. “They feel good to have the community support.”
Other local residents that do not celebrate Christmas still get into the festive holiday spirit.
The Vaikunth Hindu Jain Temple will hold a “Shiyala ni Sanj” — or Winter Festival — tonight at its facility in Galloway.
Renuji Vaidya, a priest at the temple, said many of the members work on Christmas at the casinos, but because many children are off from school this week the center will have a party for people to join together. She said many children will receive presents so they don’t feel left out by the kids who got gifts on Christmas.
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