Oceanside resident Jeremy Feder, 15, received a Good Deed Award for Long Island Teenagers at the Congregation Beth Sholom Chabad on May 23. He was one of 42 Nassau County teens honored for helping others.
When Feder was 12 and about to make his bar mitzvah, he hosted a charity baseball tournament to benefit America’s VetDogs, a Smithtown-based, non-profit organization that trains puppies to become service dogs for veterans at no cost to the recipient.
Since the first tournament went so well, Feder said, he saw no reason not to hold it every year. The Oceanside High School sophomore has now raised a total of $18,000 for America’s VetDogs.
“This started as a mitzvah project and became a big community event,” Feder said. “It feels great to be recognized with this prestigious award.”
Feder’s guidance counselor at OHS, Jayne Gordon, nominated him for the Good Deed award. Rabbi Anchelle Perl, the director of the awards program, has recognized more than 1,000 teenagers who have positively impacted their communities in the past 26 years.
“When you have 19 year olds shooting up synagogues making the news, it’s very important to highlight the young men and women who are working hard and being creative and innovative to help the community,” he said. “And it’s particularly important to show how much we appreciate them.”
With the help and support of Oceanside Little League, Feder registers about four to eight baseball teams per year to compete in the tournaments. He also recruits friends from the high school to volunteer with him for community service credits. The weekend-long event kicks off with opening night on Friday and includes raffles, snacks and speeches from local officials, event organizers and representatives from America’s VetDogs.
The fourth annual Jeremy Feder All-Star Charity Baseball Tournament will be held on Sept. 20 to 22 at Wrights Field, 264 Mott St., in Oceanside. This year, Kiwanis Club of Oceanside will attend on Opening Night to collect new underwear and socks to donate to homeless veterans. America’s VetDogs representatives will also attend with some of their service dogs. The raffle proceeds and teams’ entry fees to the tournament, as well as corporate and private donations, all go directly to the charity.
Rabbi Perl commended Feder for “his outstanding commitment to serving others” as he presented him with the award at the Chabad in Mineola. “He has singly-handedly brought together adults and children with his sense of responsibility and compassion,” Rabbi Perl added.
Feder’s mother, Laura, agreed. “Usually 200 or so people come to Opening Night,” she said. “It means a lot to him to help soldiers live a fuller life and these service dogs can really be a lifeline for them.”
When Feder first decided to host a fundraiser for America’s VetDogs, he met with the organization to share his idea. Since then, Jaime McGrade, the nonprofit’s community fundraising and events manager, has worked closely with Feder on the tournament. “We were very excited about it because it was unlike any other event that we had here,” McGrade said. “We knew it would be successful.”
McGrade explained that service dogs provide companionship for veterans — and “so much more.” Service dogs can be custom-trained depending on what the veteran needs. They can pick up items, remove socks, turn lights on and off and perform other day-to-day tasks for veterans who might be injured or have limb loss. In addition, some dogs are able to sense when their owner is having a nightmare and nudge them awake before it escalates into a full-blown, post-traumatic stress disorder episode.
She added that the organization does not receive government funding and exists strictly on donations from individuals, foundations, service clubs and events. More than 80 percent of the money raised goes directly to services and programs for veterans and first responders, free of charge.
“We need more kids like Jeremy,” McGrade said. “He is a very dedicated young man; he raises a significant amount each year and works very hard for many months. He’s extremely ambitious and caring to want to continue helping vets.”