My aunt Sima taught in her youth at Beth Rivkah Academy, a Chabad girls school in Montreal, Canada. One year, as the holiday of Passover was approaching, she noted that one of her students seemed distressed. She inquired about it, and the student revealed that her father was terminally ill.
When my aunt came home and mentioned the situation to my grandfather, Leibel Ceitlin, he sprung into action. "If the father is home, who is providing for the family? How are they going to afford a Seder?" he wondered.
Without waiting for others to pitch in, he placed an order for Matzah, wine, fish, meat and produce. He then purchased the items and hand-delivered them to the family.
Sadly, the student's father passed away in the middle of the holiday. The knowledge that people like my grandfather were looking out for them helped that family overcome their loss. They have since grown to become one of the pillars of the Montreal community, always willing to assist others.
This caring effort by my grandfather before Passover is actually an age-old Jewish custom. It is called "kimcha d'pischa" ("Passover flour") or "ma'ot chitim" ("wheat money") and the purpose is to provide to those in need during Passover.
As a child, I remember the clothing drive and cases of produce being dropped off at the doorstep of families with many children. After school, we would visit the nearby shopping center and distribute free Matzah to people.
You too can take part of this centuries-old practice of giving. Check-in on a friend, extend an invite to your seder, gift a box of Matzah or offer help. Let's usher in the Jewish season of giving with a warm embrace as a united people.