One BIG Community for Chai Provides one BIG Response

Chai Cancer Care’s ‘One BIG Community for Chai’ campaign started with the Chai Big Weekend and ended late into Monday night with a £2.6m matched-funding campaign.

The activities kicked off on Thursday night (25th November) with a ‘Challah Dough Disco’ as 35 women joined event organiser Micaela Chetrit and the ‘Challah Mummy’ herself, Allegra Benitah. Participants were entertained throughout by DJ Mesiba who led a rolling-pin conga and the Macarena while the dough was proving.

Friday saw Chai’s now annual ‘Mad Hair Day’ take over 17 schools across the country. Thousands of students turned up with crazy hair styles with all funds raised going towards the ‘Chai in Schools’ programme. Chai in Schools supports children affected by a cancer diagnosis of either themselves or someone in their family. It also gives Headteachers, teachers and SENCOs advice and training in how to respond appropriately to the child’s needs as well as those of their classmates.

Into Shabbat, with over 130 synagogues and communities from all denominations involved in the Chai Shabbat. Events included purple themed kiddush with purple cupcakes, to Havdalah with purple glow sticks, with many Rabbis using the opportunity to speak about the work of Chai in their sermons.

As the online fundraiser began at 10am on Sunday morning, volunteers took to the streets (and shops) to promote the work of Chai. Volunteers from Project ImpACT among others were at Tesco Brent Cross while Chai volunteers, staff, friends and family kitted out in purple hoodies manned the tills at locations across the UK including Tesco Borehamwood, Kosher Kingdom and Brackman’s in Manchester. The dedicated teams braved sub-zero temperatures and icy conditions to spread the word about Chai.

By late Monday night, the 320 fundraising teams and close to 9,000 donors from across the world had raised over £2.6m, a truly monumental feat.

Speaking as the charity passed its initial fundraising target, Chai Chairman Louise Hager said, “our annual running costs are £3.5m, and the demand on cancer support charities is only likely to rise as a result of the ongoing Covid pandemic. For the community to support us to such an extent in a year where our fundraising opportunities have been reduced yet again, is truly wonderful. We are so thankful, grateful and inspired by the outpouring of love and affection from across the country and further afield.”

On Monday night, as the campaign came to a close, Chai Chief Executive, Lisa Steele reflected, “It was important for us that, this year, our campaign was not just a fundraiser but also something that would include the whole community. ‘One BIG Community for Chai’ reached tens of thousands of people over the whole weekend and illustrates and confirms how we are always there for the community and, the community is always there for Chai.”

 The funds raised will be used to support all Chai Cancer Care’s services and running costs for the year ahead.