Reuse, recycle, repair the world

Israel's Social Delivery project bridges a gap and gives back to the Earth

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Social Delivery volunteers distributing goods.

With a booming hi-tech sector accounting for close to 10% of the economy, the standard of living for many Israelis is on the rise. 

Yet, not everyone is sharing in the wealth. Many of those not working in hi-tech and its derivatives are left out in the cold, trying to keep pace with rising costs. As a result, government welfare authorities and related agencies simply can't manage the large number of Israelis of all sectors struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living. 

Thank goodness, then, for Israel's philanthropic eco-system--boasting over 30,000 non-profits--seeking to fill in the gaps and alleviate the needs left unaddressed by a government whose budget is stretched thin.

Social Delivery, one such organization, is an innovative new initiative founded and operated by Tomer Shemesh. The project connects Israel's profitable businesses with the needs of those less fortunate--including Holocaust survivors, children living in foster care and youth villages, and others. 

Here's how it works: The organization takes the surpluses of certain industries--such as clothing, manufacturing, hotel, technology, and pharma--and locates social service non-profits that can distribute them to those most in need. 

These excess items--that would otherwise likely end up buried in Israel's already overfilled Negev landfills--get delivered to a logistical warehouse where volunteers sort, catalog, and  distribute them to front-line service providers who submit requests on behalf of their clients.  

"What we are trying to do is to build a logistical bridge connecting surpluses with those who need them the most," Shemesh explains. "There is no central warehouse that is capable of doing this--we fill that vacuum." 

In the modern world of industrial production, a large percentage of the goods produced never make it to the final consumer, becoming a burden on the market and the environment. But Social Delivery transforms that burden into a social asset, breathing new life into inventory that retailers can't move off the floor--everything from used computers to food to clothing to hygienic products. 

For instance, when large hi-tech firms move offices, they'll often replace their entire office furniture stock, computers included. Social Delivery staff re-format the computers and get them into the hands of people who can use them.  

And when local clothing chains need to replace their previous season's offerings to make room for new merchandise, they'll often burn their old inventory--destroying thousands of perfectly good items of clothing. Thanks to the Social Delivery concept, such brand new clothes find their way to local welfare authorities who seek out appropriate recipients. 

Hotels, too, replace their mattresses on average, every couple of years, discarding the old ones. The project recycles the mattresses--putting them to good use by thousands of families who need beds to sleep on.  

Mother Earth also reaps the benefits of this initiative. "We avoid burying thousands of items in landfills every month," Shemesh points out. "We are effecting change not only in the lives of Israelis but also in our ecology and our environment." 

For the non-profit organizations supporting Israelis in need, Social Delivery is a one-stop shop where they can find everything they need--within a few months if not immediately.

Earlier this year, the project made its foray into the international arena. Nepal's Ambassador to Israel appealed to Social Delivery to help her country secure special equipment in the war on COVID. The organization collected surplus protective paraphernalia from pharma stores and producers and delivered the gear to the people of Nepal.  

The Social Delivery project delivers a win-win solution for all--industry, non-profits, thousands of citizens in need, and the environment. It's a simple concept: getting items from those who don't need them into the hands of those who do.

Ofer Bavly is the Director General of the JUF Israel Office.

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