BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It may not be a religious day at the Jewish Community Centers in Baltimore, but it is a day to spread the holiday spirit.

In the 13 years since it began, Mitzvah Day has become a Christmas day tradition for many families to give back across the city.

At the Jewish Community Center in park heights, Christmas day is Mitzvah day.

“For most members of the Jewish community, it’s not a holiday. And what it is, is a day that everyone has off of work, and it’s a day that we really have a chance to get together, to make a difference,” said Ashley Pressman, Jewish Volunteer Connection.

The community-wide day of giving back has become a December 25th tradition for Jewish families in Baltimore.

“Volunteering is something that has always been a special part of my connection to Judaism, and I really love doing it as a family and sort of sharing in it together,” volunteer Michele Hayunga said.

Crafty volunteers made dozens of tie blankets for women’s shelters, and 2,000 winter care packages went to Baltimoreans in need.

Each included a hand-knit scarf, hat, and handmade cards, plus food and toiletries.

“What that means is that when people get this gift, they know that people really put some time and some thought and some love into it, and it really does make a difference,” Pressman said.

Between the JCC in Park Heights and the location in Owings Mills, about 1,400 volunteers are working on many different projects.

“I think just seeing everybody smile is so amazing and being able to know that I give back to the community,” Hayunga added.

Living the meaning of Mitzvah and keeping close the spirit of the holiday season.

All the care packages assembled were delivered to different service organizations throughout the Baltimore area.

“Our goal today is to give people a chance to make a difference,” Pressman said. “A chance to meet some of Baltimore’s most urgent needs.”

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