In time for Purim, Jewish volunteers from Moscow came together to bake nearly two-dozen boxes of hamantaschen...

and 11 boxes of sugar-free candy for mishloah manot, traditional holiday gifts of food and drink delivered to friends, neighbors and others on Purim day.

Organized in partnership with Moscow's local Hillel and the JDC-supported Hesed social-welfare center Yad Ezra, the 70 participants included multigenerational local volunteers and elderly Hesed clients. Over the next few days, young-adult volunteers are set deliver the treats and spend time with the homebound elderly, many previously visited during a similar volunteer event for Hanukkah.

For Natalia Uymenova, a 36-year-old first-time volunteer, "doing something good for people – making sweets with your own hands and putting all your heart into it – is so much better than receiving any gifts".

These volunteers are part of a larger network associated with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the global Jewish humanitarian organization, working across the former Soviet Union. Since launching in 2014, the volunteer network has grown from a handful of local leaders to more than 6,100 people working in seven countries.

In other parts of the former Soviet Union, Jewish community members will partake in holiday activities such as festivals, workshops and demonstrations. In Belarus, families and children are invited to a cooking class to make hamantaschen and other Purim treats.

In Kiev, Ukraine, elderly clients will get to make holiday masks in an art workshop, while in Dnepro a community festival will include games, contests and quizzes about Purim history and its heroes.

The work of JDC's volunteer network is made possible through its partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Jewish Federations, and individual foundations and donors.