The Small Things

The Small Things

80-4 Cosey Beach Ave
East Haven, CT 06512

Bekka Ross Russell
4753310505 (Phone)

Description of Organization:

TST empowers orphaned and vulnerable children, their families, and communities in Tanzania, East Africa, through residential care for 50 children (0-13 yrs) and a strong family preservation program.

Bnai Mitzvah Projects or Volunteer Opportunities offered by the organization for children ages 11 - 13:

Go to for all the details!

Volunteer from Home
No action is too small to make a difference – change lives from wherever you are by becoming an ambassador for the TST kids and families. We’ll make it easy with a custom fundraising webpage! What are you passionate about, and good at? Can you bake? Run? Organize a donation drive? There are so many ways to help the children from wherever you are in the world. Need more ideas? Hold a Tanzanian themed dinner party, make jewelry or cards to sell, or run an art show featuring paintings from our kids. Get your friends, family, club, troop, or class involved, get creative, and have fun!

PenPal Project
In addition to fundraising, you can get involved by helping older kids, teenagers and staff practice their English, while learning about their lives and sharing your own! Get set up to exchange emails with young Tanzanians, and learn about a culture and way of life different from anything you’ve experienced.

Volunteer in Tanzania
If you can, bring your family (or an 18+ guardian) to volunteer ethically with us in Tanzania and make a real difference while supporting the community! We have opportunities for longer term volunteers (4+ weeks) as well as social impact tours. Our volunteer programs are structured to provide the fewest possible attachment disruptions for our kids, as it is first and foremost their home. Most volunteers will work in our preschool and with older children, assisting with English classes and homework help. We are also always open to designing placements for individuals with special skills such as artists, teachers, social workers, tradespeople, medical personnel and researchers.

Social Impact Tours
Learn, have fun, and do good on our social impact tours, and see our work in action as part of your trip to Tanzania! Stay with us for anything from a half-day to three days, and experience the community firsthand, with a choice of ethical cultural tourism options that provide income-generating opportunities for families in need. Get an overview of our residential and outreach work, visit our community center, eat a Tanzanian meal with our staff, and depending on how long you stay, choose from other fun activities like coffee tours, waterfall hikes, village walks, reading to children at the preschool, seeing a traditional cooking or dance demonstration, sitting in on vocational classes, and much more! Combine it with a safari and see everything else this spectacular country has to offer – Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, the list goes on.

About The Small Things

The Small Things (TST) is an international charity based in East Haven/Branford CT, and founded by Bekka Ross Russell, a young woman from Temple Beth Tikvah. We empower orphaned and vulnerable children, their families, and communities in Tanzania, and believe that the best way to support a child is to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for them. Because families and children have different needs at different times, residential care and family preservation work aren’t at odds with each other – they are two halves of the same whole. What matters is that kids are raised with love. At Nkoaranga Orphanage, we partner with a local institution to care for children from birth through age three, mostly after their mothers have passed away in childbirth. We also built Happy Family Children’s Village, which features family-style homes for children 4-18 who can’t be reunified with family yet. In the longer term, we help vulnerable families to stabilize and bring their children home from residential care. We also work to prevent children from being separated from their families in the first place, through various forms of microfinance, education and outreach support. Finally, through our community center, we improve access to crucial resources so children can thrive at home. Our approach is built around community partnership and empowering sustainable interventions, versus creating dependency.

What’s the connection to Judaism?

The Torah commands us to care for the orphan and widow, regardless of whether they share a skin color or religion with us. The Small Things exemplifies Hillel’s approach to charity – “When I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?” Don’t worry about the perfect time – take your own small actions to make the world, when and where you have the opportunity to do so. In this beautiful community, we have established an interfaith partnership with Jewish, Christian and Muslim supporters, working hand in hand to help families stay together and children achieve their maximum potential. TST was also founded by Bekka Ross Russell at just 23 years old, and is an example of how young people can make a bigger difference than they might think.

Helping children has always been in Bekka’s blood. Her grandmother, Hilde Goldberg, was a heroine who saved many Jewish children’s lives from the Nazis, after losing her own parents as a teenager during World War II. Among other things, she smuggled children with the Belgian Underground, ran a day care center at Bergen Belsen, and dedicated her later life to quality early childhood education for impoverished families. While TST is nondenominational, its work has always been heavily inspired by Hilde’s example. See “Motherland” by Rita Goldberg for more details about her incredible life!

Why contribute to TST rather than a big, more well-known group?

With a small organization like TST, as opposed to a huge national or international charity, you know that your contribution really makes a difference. You can choose how the money you raise is spent, and see the long term outcomes, and even visit and view it on the ground. Sponsorships are another great way to make your project personal, by supporting and connecting with a specific child or family. If you choose, you can build a relationship that will last a lifetime! We are deeply committed to transparency, and are always happy to provide any documents or answer any questions you may have about how we operate.

What’s Next? Go to
to view our Prezi for more details about mitzvah projects!
Visit our website to learn more about our work –
Contact Bekka by emailing or calling (475) 331-0505

Minimum Age to Volunteer:


Offer family volunteer opportunities?