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Kids Raise Money For Bighelp

Padmaja Balabhadrapatruni

Sai Balabhadraprtuni is an 8th grader from Westford.  He is also a ‘Star’ ranked Boy Scout. He was just a 6th grade kid when he first attended the annual fundraising event for “BIG HELP for Education” organization.  He was attending a spelling bee contest they were conducting for school kids as part of their fundraising effort. At this event he saw a presentation as to how the organization helps educate poor children in India, where even if the kids wanted to, the parents could not afford education for them, and would rather have the kids work and be an earning member of the family. He is not a stranger to community service. He has been learning Indian classical music and gave multiple concerts in the Greater Boston area to promote various charitable causes. As a proud member of Boy Scouts, he has volunteered and participated in various service projects. He wanted to do something, anything to contribute in his small way to this great cause undertaken by BIGHELP.

Nitya Yelamanchili is a 7th grader from Chelmsford.  She participates in regular fund raisers at school. She saved and donated to organizations like Bighelp, Samanvai and Vegesna foundation. Last birthday she wanted money instead of gift and bought Christmas gifts for three elderly people at an assisted living. She tries to save money where she can without much sacrifice, like if her school bag is in good condition; she puts $25 each in charity bank in the beginning of the year. Each child can easily raise money to sponsor one child an year and experience the joy of giving. Nitya always says that she enjoys more when she give to needy than buying (getting) for herself.

BIGHELP’s efforts resonated with what both were taught at home and at the Indian culture classes, Balalahari, they take every Friday evening. Sai came up with the idea for the project ‘Kids to Kids’ and discussed it with his parents, who are also volunteer teachers at Balalahari, and they readily encouraged him to go ahead. He then suggested the idea to Nitya and to some of the older Balalahari students and explained to them about ‘Kids to Kids’ i.e., from the ‘Balalahari kids’ to these kids in India, who do not have anything, and can’t get education even if they want to. Nitya became his partner in crime, and both of them spearheaded this effort from that point onward.

Instead of simply asking the parents or kids for donations, Sai thought they should start selling small snacks at these classes. Their moms provided homemade muffins, cookies, and brownies, and well, sometimes, even store bought confectionaries as well. The project made small progress initially, but eventually, raised $1050. Sai then contacted the president of BIGHELP, Mr. Pasha, and offered to hand over the money they raised for their cause. He then got a big surprise, as Mr. Pasha appreciated their efforts very much and nominated them for the “Raising Award” that they give out every year to the person who raises funds to better the lives and provide education for underprivileged children in India.  Sai and Nitya, received this award at BIGHELP’s annual program on January 7th. They both said that they did not raise funds in hopes of getting any special recognition or awards.  Sai said “we were taught about the basic ethical concepts, the “do’s” and “don’ts” for a good life, like Satya (truth), Ahimsa (non-violence), Daya (kindness), Kshama (forgiveness) etc. We were taught that we should be kind and generous to people who do not have all the things that we have. My parents also taught me that if we can make a difference in the life of one person, then that life is a well spent one. Service to humanity is service to God. We learned the same concept of community service also from Boy Scouts”. Nitya agreed “By God’s grace, we all have so many luxuries in life. More than what we need. Good education, nice house, cars, toys, games, and indulging parents who can afford to buy us more than what we need, and sometimes we still complain. But my parents made me think about all the kids in the world who do not have any of these things. I know we cannot erase or ease all their pains, but wanted to try to do whatever little we can.” They are motivated and energized to continue this in the future. Sai wants to come up with more new ideas and projects to help kids. In addition to “Kids-To-Kids”, he is planning to collect good, usable books for inner city kids, and also collect food items for the local homeless shelters along with his brother, who is an Eagle Scout. Nitya is willing to do whatever she can to support, promote such charitable causes. Here is to hope that these raising stars raise more funds in the future and raise the same awareness in their friends and fellow students.

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