Mitzvah Project: Justin Protects The LI Sound

On October 20, 2012, Justin M. Smith embarked on a very special sail. Though the 12 year old from Muttontown, NY has been sailing for three years, he had never done something quite like this before: Justin sailed his 8-foot Optimist across the Long Island Sound entirely by himself, as a way to raise money to help fund a project run by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that will restore the Sound’s ecosystem. Justin plans to accept donations for the project up until his Bar Mitzvah in January 2013.

When Justin’s synagogue, Woodbury Jewish Center, asked that he choose a Mitzvah Project, this cause seemed like the obvious choice. When asked to explain in his own words why he decided to do this project, Justin said he had a lot of different reasons. “I sail and swim in the Long Island Sound and I want to continue to keep it clean so others can continue to use it,” he told Mitzvah Market. “It is also very important for the plants and fish.”

Justin chose the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation because of their mission to preserve and restore the nation’s native wildlife species and habitats. Their plan to help the Long Island Sound involves nutrient bioextraction, also known as bioharvesting, and is thought to be a promising solution.

In order to spread the word about his project and increase the likelihood of getting donations, Justin created a Facebook page and handed out flyers everywhere. He also partnered with both non-profit and for-profit organizations that were able to get the word out through their websites, press releases, and general presence, and his project sparked so much interest he was even featured on TV in The Long Island News’ “Heroes on Our Island” segment!

Justin M. Smith from Muttontown will be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in January of 2013

So was Justin’s project a success? Yes! He traveled from Stamford, Connecticut to Oyster Bay, NY via the Long Island Sound in his boat all by himself, and upon completion of his journey, there was a celebration at Jack Halyards American Bar & Grill.

Congratulations, Justin! Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with us, and good luck raising more money through donations leading up to your Bar Mitzvah. Read an article and watch a video about Justin in Newsday here.


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