Allyson Glassband is a Good Deeds Day committee member and co-leader of the Blessings in a Backpack and Blessing Bags volunteer site. She works as a math, social studies and family involvement teacher at Talbott Springs Elementary School.
Hi Allyson! How did you first get involved with Federation’s Good Deeds Day?
After volunteering for Purim Palooza and Good Deeds Day in the past, last year I started serving on the Good Deed Day committee. I serve as co-chair of the Blessings in a Backpack and Blessing Bags site, where we make food bags for children from low-income homes and toiletry bags for the homeless
What drew you to this particular Good Deeds Day volunteer site?
Blessings in a Backpack is a national program with a local impact, providing food in backpacks for kids at schools across the country. I teach at one of those schools, so I understand the impact these backpacks make for local kids. The Blessings in a Backpack project and the Blessing Bags project are also a perfect fit for elementary-school age volunteers. They can go shopping with their parents for items and distribute them on the assembly line. It’s a great project, knowing that kids in Howard County are involved with it and kids in Howard County are benefiting from it.
Blessing Bags are also something that people can continue to utilize during the year. Once the bags are packed, families distribute them to those experiencing homelessness. My son and I take a few when we go to a baseball game in Baltimore City. There are so many people asking for money there and here in Howard County, so it is great to be able to give them this bag of useful items.
Both projects produce items that are always needed, and it’s great that we can have a new set of kids get involved every year, as kids age and become eligible to participate. Blessings in a Backpack and Blessing Bags are definitely the kinds of projects that I can see myself facilitating for years to come.
What inspired you to get more involved with Federation as a volunteer?
So many wonderful things get done through the Federation. I feel that there are so many ways to contribute to a productive Jewish community, and volunteering is a great way to do that.
I am glad that I can help others in my community perform good deeds; it’s one of those things that you hear the rabbi reference all the time: “If not now, when? If not me, who?” If this can be my one little thing that I can contribute to the Jewish community at large, I’ll be thrilled to be able to continue to do that.
Is there a new outlook you’ve come to appreciate since you started volunteering for the Federation?
Every volunteer experience, no matter how small, gives you the feeling of what it is like to do a good deed. Once I got involved, I felt like I wanted to keep spreading that feeling so that others could feel it too. I also became more aware of the needs out there and more motivated to “pay it forward.”
There are some people who are doers, and it’s usually they who volunteer throughout the year. That’s true and that’s okay. But I think it’s great to have this day when everyone can get involved. I hope they take the experience with them and are inspired to find more opportunities to do good throughout the year. I think it’s so awesome that Federation puts money in their budget so that people can come to Good Deeds Day, and I'm proud to be part of the planning team.
What is your personal Jewish history?
I grew up in Pikesville, that should say it all. :) t’s a different experience raising my kids in Howard County—where Jews aren't as visible. Therefore, it has become even more important to me to provide that Jewish life for my children, sending them to Jewish camp and being involved in the Jewish community. We belong to Temple Isaiah, and I like that my kids can connect with lots of Jewish kids living all over Howard County because they see very few Jewish kids at school and at extracurricular activities. I love that my kids are growing up in a diverse community, and at the same time I want to keep their faith strong and show them that being Jewish is important to our family.
For instance, one year my kids had drama class on Yom Kippur night. I told my kids that it was important for them not to go to the class, to make a statement about what they believe in. Not attending showed that they observed Yom Kippur as a solemn holiday when time is spent with family. You almost have more of a responsibility to your faith so that other people see that it is important to you.
What’s your favorite thing about the Jewish community in Howard County?
I like that there are so many people who come from different areas with different experiences and have all landed here. I appreciate that diversity.
What’s your favorite thing about the Federation in Howard County?
In Howard County, it’s not always easy to see the Jewish presence, so I really appreciate the opportunities the Federation provides to connect to other Jewish families. For instance, I love going to Purim Palooza because there are so many people there that I know from different places in my life. I think it’s great that the Federation is the glue that holds all of these separate pockets of Jewish in Howard County together.
I also like that the Federation does a lot of different kinds of events that appeal to different age groups. For instance, the Good Deeds Day committee was really purposeful in planning activities for all different age levels, so there’s really something for everyone.
Is there a particular Jewish value that inspires you to give back for the Jewish community?
I think the idea of tikkun olam is so important. At the school I teach at, we have different spirit days, and at one, we wear clothing that celebrates our heritage. On that day last year, I wore my Good Deeds Day t-shirt. Tikkun olam is really prevalent to my Jewish faith.
What is your favorite Jewish Holiday?
I really like Passover. I like the seder, I like that Passover brings family together, and I like that we continue the same traditions that have been done over and over again in our family, going way back. It reminds me of my family here and keeps me connected to the family that I have lost.
What you like to do for fun?
I love listening to music, doing outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and traveling, and spending time with family and friends.