PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Hundreds of volunteers from the Jewish community are spending the day giving back on Christmas.

Many volunteers packed the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill for the annual “Mitzvah Day.”

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A mitzvah is the Hebrew word for a good deed or act of kindness.

The many volunteers spent all day working to help others at 65 social service sites throughout Allegheny County.

“We are literally everywhere,” Judi Kanal with the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center said, “animal shelters, nursing homes, homeless shelters, serving Christmas dinner downtown.”

At the community center, volunteers made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for public school children in need.

Some volunteers kept track of their work.

“Eight or nine, I’ve been counting,” 7-year-old volunteer Eli Wynn said.

“It’s heartwarming,” volunteer Naama Lazar said. “It’s just heartwarming, it’s exciting, it’s a wonderful idea to give to those in need.”

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This is the 12th year for this event and every year it gets bigger and bigger.

Last year, about 550 volunteers participated. This year, closer to 700 joined.

Organizers said they had to turn away volunteers because there wasn’t enough for everyone to do.

Those volunteers spent the day writing encouraging letters that will go to women involved with dress for success – a program that helps prepare and provide clothing to women for job interviews.

“I think it’s wonderful,” volunteer Joanne Berman said. “I got up especially early so I could be here and volunteer and do this letter writing.”

But at the end of the day, the volunteers say they’re just happy to make a difference.

“When there is no kindness,” one volunteer said, “the world crumbles.”

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