By Michelle Graff
Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, shakes hands with Israel Diamond Exchange President Shmuel Schnizer at the presidential residence in Jerusalem on Dec. 26.
Ramat Gan--The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) recently held a fundraising drive for ILAN, the Israel Foundation for Handicapped Children, an organization that helps thousands of physically handicapped children and adults across the country.

The drive took place on Dec. 23 at the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange Complex and coincided with ILAN’s national campaign. For this campaign, ILAN works with the Israel Ministry of Education as tens of thousands of elementary school children knock on the doors of virtually every Israeli household to collect money for the charity.

IDE President Shmuel Schnitzer said IDE’s partnership with ILAN began last year. He said the diamond industry in Israel, which is a major part of the country’s economy, needs to set an example for corporate social responsibility.

“By embracing the cause of ILAN, we hope to contribute to improving the lives of many handicapped children, for whom life is a daily struggle and who deserve our help in maintaining their personal dignity and quality of life,” said Schnitzer.

Schnitzer is chairman of the national ILAN collection campaign and heads community relations for the charity.

On Dec. 26, he attended the annual reception for ILAN hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres at the presidential residence in Jerusalem, with students from the Herzfeld School for Special Education and members of the ILAN board also present.

At the reception, ILAN Chairman Ehud Ratzabi commented that the IDE and its members, “not only contribute funds but also invest considerable time and energy in improving the lives of many handicapped children.”

Established in 1952, ILAN assists children and adults suffering from neuromuscular disorders such as infantile paralysis, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. The organization, which relies largely on donations for funding, has 40 branches and 30 facilities in Israel. Assistance is offered to anyone with physical disabilities, no matter their affiliation, including individuals from kibbutzim, moshavim, the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors.

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