Children in Great Neck seek to send hope to separated migrant children

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A pair of children work on crafting a message for migrant children. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
A pair of children work on crafting a message for migrant children. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Sam Bernstein, 7, a light-haired boy in a green shirt, hunches over cards with a marker in hand. He sometimes asks how to spell a word.

Sam Bernstein, 7, holds up a message he hopes to send to children who need help. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Sam Bernstein, 7, holds up a message he hopes to send to children who need help. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

But Sam keeps penning messages he wants to send to migrant children his age still separated from their parents, ranging from “don’t give up, we will help” to “we sent you gifts, please have fun with them.”

“It was important enough that I felt like my ankles were unscrewing, but I still wanted to come here, because I would feel guilty if I didn’t,” Sam said.

A row of children work on their postcards. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Sam was one of at least a dozen children to stop by a line of tables at Allenwood Park late Thursday afternoon, with a goal of sending hope to children separated at the border from their parents due to a Trump administration policy attempting to deter illegal border crossings.

The Chai sub-group of the Great Neck chapter of Hadassah, an organization of Jewish women aiming to “effect change through advocacy, advancing health and well-being, and support of Israel,” according to its website, organized the activities.

The event featured paint, markers, colored pencils and crayons to create colorful cards. Many children and their parents also flooded the home of Hadassah Co-President Debbie Doustan with gifts like puzzles, notebooks and toys throughout the day to be sent to the non-profit Cayuga Centers with the cards and in turn distributed to migrant children.

Hadassah collected toys, notebooks and other goods to send to Cayuga Center so they can reach migrant children. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
Hadassah collected toys, notebooks and other goods to send to Cayuga Center so they can reach migrant children. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

“What we do with our kids is that we have stations set up for them to make postcards, so that when the kids get all the equipment and toys and school supplies they’ll have a little personal note from the kids,” Doustan said. “And that way we’re teaching our kids the importance of giving back and helping and making a difference.”

"We are thinking of you!" this postcard reads "¡Estamos pensado en ti!" (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
“We are thinking of you!” this postcard reads “¡Estamos pensado en ti!” (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Lauren Jucem, another co-president of Hadassah, also described the event as one of their kids showing solidarity with other children.

“The cards are showing support and letting these kids know that we care and other kids care,” Juceam said. “So it’s children helping children.”

According to court filings by the U.S. government, 1,442 children have been reunited with parents in Immigration Customs Enforcement custody and 378 have been “discharged in other appropriate circumstances.”

A sign once held at a protest in Great Neck, calling for the reunification of separated families, made an appearance at the event. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)
A sign once held at a protest in Great Neck, calling for the reunification of separated families, made an appearance at the event. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

But more than 700 children are still not united with parents, the documents show, meaning the government has failed to meet the July 26 deadline set by federal Judge Dana Sabraw to reunite all the families.

And for Sam, this is definitely “not okay.”

“I would say, ‘please help these people, they need help, because they got separated from their parents and they are sad and it’s not okay,” Sam said when asked what he wanted to tell people. “’They should be reunited with their parents.’”

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