The Mishna teaches, “Carry loads with others.” Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto explains that although this refers to emotional loads and situations of stress, the simple meaning also includes the mitzvah of helping others carry luggage or heavy bags of any kind.

The Sefer HaChinuch says we learn from performing mitzvot to have compassion for others and try to help those who are suffering. When we have mercy on others, Hashem will have mercy on us.

For more than 20 years, my consulting psychology practice has focused on the nonprofit community in southeastern Michigan. It has been an incredible honor to work alongside those who have dedicated their careers to serving others.

Now semi-retired, I wanted a way to give back. That journey led me to Lighthouse. Initially, I joined the board of South Oakland Shelter (SOS) because I believed in their mission of providing emergency shelter to families, children, seniors and individuals struggling with homelessness. I also appreciated their “business model” of significant engagement of volunteers, especially the faith-based community, and I have great respect for the leadership and vision of CEO Ryan Hertz.

Shortly after joining the SOS board, we merged with Lighthouse — a long-standing, well-respected organization serving those in need, especially those in need of housing.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our country, it was particularly difficult for those already struggling with economic challenges. Lighthouse pivoted in order to maintain our core services and took the lead in food distribution in Oakland County. Now, in addition to emergency shelter services, eviction prevention, affordable housing development and more, Lighthouse provides food to more than 5,000 people every week.

Our response was possible through the hard work and commitment of our amazing staff and the hundreds of volunteers who donate their time to the service of others.

These days, I volunteer at our emergency warehouse in Waterford 2-3 times a week. This gives me an opportunity to interact with the wonderful staff and with volunteers who pack the food and distribute it to clients who cannot get out of their homes. It also lets me be part of a special, somewhat sacred community of beautiful people. And it feels good to carry loads with others.

Where else could a 70-year-old Jewish guy schlep boxes around a warehouse with an electric pallet puller and help angel volunteers pack cars with food to nourish people in need?

Every year around the holidays, as the temperature drops, the needs in our community increase. Please consider making a donation or volunteering with Lighthouse. I can tell you because I’ve seen it firsthand — this program saves lives, helps families, and helps to make our world a better place.