In the midst of winter in Israel, residents are struggling with the financial burden of heating their homes, especially as they spend more time indoors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and bills are higher than ever.

Among the most sensitive population are the elderly, whose limited incomes are insufficient to cover even basic needs.

In response, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), in conjunction with Amidar—Israel’s national public housing company and a branch of the Ministry of Construction and Housing—launched an operation to distribute winter kits to 10,000 elderly residents in public housing across the country.

“After months of being confined at home due to the coronavirus crisis, the plight of the elderly has worsened and even became more dangerous,” said Fellowship president and CEO Yael Eckstein. “Especially during the corona crisis, too many people face the inhumane choice between heating their homes and buying food or medicine. With the cooperation of local welfare departments, housing companies, and generous donors and volunteers, we are reaching the neediest among the elderly to ensure that they get through the winter safely.”

Distribution of the kits began against the backdrop of a third lockdown, during which many seniors are experiencing increased isolation and a lack of social interaction. The community initiative is being carried out by Fellowship employees, Amidar’s community relations department and service centers, and volunteers.

The kits include a heated blanket and scarf, in addition to vouchers worth about $100 for purchasing winter essentials.

The distribution, which has Amidar and Fellowship representatives visiting and checking on the elderly in their homes, is being conducted under strict adherence to guidelines established by Israel’s Ministry of Health. The kits, which cost a total of $1 million, are also being distributed to residents of public housing across the country.

Rossana Levy Klass, 68, a resident of an Amidar-managed apartment in Beit She’an, immigrated to Israel from Argentina in 1979. “Thank you so much for the beautiful winter gift and the shopping vouchers that will help me, especially during this time,” she said. “Most importantly, I want to give huge thanks for the personal visit, which means so much to me because I am alone.”