It might have been frosty outside, but the atmosphere inside of Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Canada was toasty as 150 people gathered last Sunday to bake muffins for Toronto’s homeless. It was the latest effort in a new initiative urging the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam, “the repair of the world.”

Goldie Plotkin—co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, Rabbi Avrohom Plotkin—says parents approached her last year saying that their children were blessed with so much, “how can we make them understand and have compassion for those less fortunate?”

The answer was to create the “Tikkun Olam Project,” offering ongoing opportunities to help others, be it buying gifts for sick children, visiting the elderly in nursing homes or, as was the focus on Jan. 11, providing food for the hungry.

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Nearly 1,000 baked goods were made from scratch, many by children with the assistance of parents and grandparents. Volunteers then wrapped, packed and delivered the items to Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based organization that provides food for the homeless.

And the contributions won’t end there. Plotkin reports that when parents at Chabad’s preschool—Torah Tots/Preschool of the Arts—heard they were doing something for the homeless, they wanted to get involved as well. The mothers decided to collect winter scarves to go to homeless residents of Toronto; in a single day, more than three-dozen scarves were collected.

Plotkin and a group of women plan to go downtown this week and hang all the scarves they eventually receive around light posts with signs reading: “This scarf is not lost, and if you need to keep warm, please take it as a gift.”

This boy's grandmother reads the baking directions to her grandson. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
This boy's grandmother reads the baking directions to her grandson. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
It's all in the family as kids and parents get mixing. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
It's all in the family as kids and parents get mixing. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
Setting out the muffin cups and paper plates for the cooking project. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)
Setting out the muffin cups and paper plates for the cooking project. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)
All hands on deck, and protective gloves on hands. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)
All hands on deck, and protective gloves on hands. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)
Moms and sons fill tins and tables with freshly made muffins. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
Moms and sons fill tins and tables with freshly made muffins. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
A group of women didn't stop with this part of the project; they went on to collect winter scarves to give as gifts to those in need. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
A group of women didn't stop with this part of the project; they went on to collect winter scarves to give as gifts to those in need. (Photo: Chaya Gelman)
They may not be able to help drive, but kids could certainly help pack up cars with their bounty, which went to Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based organization that provides food for the homeless. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)
They may not be able to help drive, but kids could certainly help pack up cars with their bounty, which went to Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based organization that provides food for the homeless. (Photo: Michelle Benjamin)