Dennis Fries of Chandler, AZ, is warming the hearts of young children, one stuffed animal at a time. Dennis, who was Bar Mitzvahed in Fall of 2004, continues to run his Mitzvah Project, Operation Noah. We think Dennis explains it best in his own words. Here’s what this eloquent young man had to share with Mitzvah Mail:
MM: In your own words, what does it mean to you to do a Mitzvah Project for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
DF: Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an important day in your life, marking your admittance into adulthood and maturity. Thus, your learning should transcend the scrolls of the Torah and be implemented in real life. That’s where the Mitzvah Project comes into play. I believe that a Mitzvah Project should do two things: inspire you and inspire others. It should inspire you to become a better person by serving your community, and it should inspire others to join in your cause (directly or indirectly) and serve the community as well.
MM: Can you give us details of your Mitzvah Project?
DF: Operation Noah is a non-profit organization that I started in August of 2004, right before my Bar Mitzvah. It is dedicated to collecting new stuffed animals and delivering them to children in the hospital. As of February 2009, Operation Noah has delivered over 50,000 stuffed animals to almost 100 hospitals in half of the United States. Our goal is to expand upon these numbers and we need your help!
MM: Why did you decide to take on this particular project/charity?
DF: I was in and out of the hospital for various medical conditions, so I personally know how scary a hospital can be, especially for younger children. At one visit I was given a stuffed animal. It helped to comfort me and soothed my fears. Afterwards, I found out that I was given the last of the stuffed animals, which the nurses donated themselves. I knew that the need for comforting children in the hospitals will never end, so I decided to give back to the community and Operation Noah began.
MM: Does your project have a start and end date, if so what are they?
DF: Our project does not have an official start and/or end date. There are numerous collection drives going on across the United States at any given time, so send us an e-mail and we can let you know the best way you can help
MM: Anything else we need to know about your Mitzvah Project?
DF: We are always trying to expand our organization; so if you are interested in donating stuffed animals or starting your own chapter/collection drive, please let us know!
MM: How can our readers get more information?