How it all began
How was SAHI created? It began in the frantic mind of Oded Weiss in 1999. At the time, he was experimenting with anonymous food distribution to needy families and the disabled, while raising his own family and working in a foster home for children. One day, one of the children came home from school and told him that he had learned about the value of “love thy neighbor”, and yet one hour later he went out to the playground and hit another boy. The event led Oded to the realization that as a society, we are only paying lip service in educating our children. We do not really mean what we say. Oded, who had experienced the power of anonymous giving, decided to try and recreate the successful influence of giving, and convey that feeling to children in his care. He suggested to the children at the foster home that they collect small change in a collection box. The girls baked challah bread for Shabbat, and together they started distributing food to five needy families. After a while, Oded heard from teachers at the school that students in the project were showing improved behavior and learning at school, showed greater motivation, exhibited less stress and were less disruptive in class.Oded’s conclusion was that when a child feels that he is meaningful, he is more open to learning and to accepting positive input.
Later, while working at the “Kedma” Youth Village, Oded engaged the youth in a discussion of families living in hunger. Their reaction was: “we need to help these families. What can we do?” and so they started to distribute food together. The activity was conducted in the middle of the night, anonymously, with food packages being laid at the families’ doorsteps and without disclosing the identity of the givers. In the intimate environment created in the car while driving from one home to another, the youth began to share deeply personal, meaningful stories and feelings from their world. The “clandestine” night activity opened a window onto the inner lives of the youth and allowed them to open up their personal world to positive adult role models.This is how the SAHI concept began to take shape: food distribution as a tool for giving, through which youth begin to feel that they are meaningful as they open their hearts to positive adults in their environment.