Wanting to do something to help Jewish orphans in Ukraine, 13-year-old Maya Solomon recruited a group of friends and hosted a bake sale that netted more than $2,000 for relief efforts. The funds she and her friends raised were then matched by a local community member, bringing the total to $4,000 in aid for Ukrainian children.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I didn’t think we’d get that much.”

Maya was inspired, in part, by the students at the Chabad Hebrew School run by her parents, Chana Devorah and Rabbi Mendel Solomon, co-directors of Chabad at Short Hills.

As her mother explained, Chabad Kids offered a curriculum for Hebrew school this year called Purim Bake Off to teach kids about the holiday mitzvah of Matanot L’Evyonim, giving to the poor. As part of the Bake-Off, kids created several items that they put in prepared Mishloach Manot packages that were sold to parents.

They raised $450 and decided to send the money to help orphans for Odessa, Ukraine.

“I thought of all the people there, and I told my mother I wanted to do something to help,” she said. “I love to bake, so I was just thinking it was a good way because a lot of people might come over and buy something. I made a logo and flyer, and told my friends about it.”

She recruited nine friends to help with the baking, packaging and selling with each girl in charge of making one pastry. All of the baking, as well as the sales, were done at the Chabad at Short Hills on Sunday afternoon.

“We are so impressed and proud of our daughter,” declared Chana Devorah Solomon. “Maya’s full name is Maryasha. She was one of the first to be named after her great-great-grandmother, Bubbe Maryasha Garelik, who suffered from war and poverty in Russia/Ukraine during Stalin’s rule, and fought to keep her family and Yiddishkeit alive. Now Maya, on her own, decided to do something to help those suffering in those same areas.”

Chabad-Lubavitch maintains children’s homes in several cities, including Odessa and Zhitromir, and has been working to ensure that the children in their care continue to have their needs met.

The Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund has been established to help provide assistance to the Jewish communities in Ukraine impacted by the war.

Click here for a prayer you can say and a list of good deeds you can do in the merit of the protection of all those in harm’s way.