Sewa Day, a day of pure voluntary selfless service, was celebrated by the Hindu-American community for the 6th successive year with community service projects at 32 locations across the US. Hundreds of volunteers across different age-groups and backgrounds including youth and children from Sewa International and partner organizations came together between September 11 and October 16 and worked on a variety of activities to make a difference in their communities.
Sewa Day is supported worldwide by three guiding principles: 1. Serve humanity to relieve hardship, 2. Bring a little joy to others, and 3. Help to sustain the environment. This year saw participation from new states and cities, a 60% increase in the number of nationwide events, and increased diversity of projects from feeding the homeless and tree planting to free immigration service sessions, and even a FIRST Robotics-connected STEM camp.
In Portland, volunteers cleaned up trails and vegetation and participated in upkeep and preservation activity at the Vedanta Society’s spiritual retreat. Volunteers in the San Francisco Bay Area cooked food for more than 2,500 people at a free health camp in the Livermore temple. In Sacramento, CA volunteers prepared and served vegetarian food to the homeless at a local Food Not Bombs collective.
At Los Angeles, volunteers sorted and boxed perishable and nonperishable food items, cleaned and provided other useful assistance at the God Provides Food Bank. In San Diego CA, 65 volunteers sorted, processed, and packaged over 10,000 lbs. of produce to be distributed in local communities.
Volunteers from Utah Kannada Koota in Salt Lake City sorted cans and packaged non-perishable food items for seniors at Utah Food Bank. At Denver, CO volunteers helped the Bharatiya community with consular services related to passport and PIO/OCI applications at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Rockies. In Aurora, CO, volunteers prepared lunch for ~350 people at Ronald McDonald House and a Sikh Gurudwara attended by Congressman Mike Coffman. In Phoenix Arizona, Sewa volunteers in association with Arizona Burn Foundation and the Phoenix Fire Department trained in smoke alarm installation, and installed over 225 alarms in underserved neighborhoods for free.
In San Antonio Texas, volunteers cleaned and mulched the playground as part of the adopt-a-park initiative. In Austin Texas, volunteers from the Bharatiya and Nepali communities collected unopened packages of women’s hygiene products.
Five Sewa Day events were performed in the Greater Houston area. Volunteers worked at the Hermann Park Conservancy’s McGovern Centennial Gardens in the ‘port to park’ bike ride event, picked up trash and debris at Galveston beach, and cleaned up the premises of a Jain temple in collaboration with the Jain Society of Houston. They also sorted medical supplies at Medical Bridges for shipment to developing countries. Sewa International and CRyptonite FRC team 624, a robotics team from Cinco Ranch High school team from Katy Independent School District who design and build robots, organized a field trip for refugee children to the Robert R. Shaw Center for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics). CRyptonite committed to teach 30 children from Sewa’s ASPIRE tutorial program about science as part of the Sewa day celebrations.
Volunteers in the Chicago area packed food for the Feed My Starving Children organization at two separate events.
There were a large number of projects in the greater Washington DC area this year including cleanup and trash removal of the Lee Highway in Virginia, course marshals and logistical support at a charity run in Fairfax, VA, planting wild flowers and trees at the Marie Butler Leven Preserve in McLean, VA in partnership with Earth Sangha; an “Annapurna” lunch-serve program at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter in Reston, VA; food preparation and drop at a homeless shelter in Rockville, MD, food packing and distribution for the Vedic Temple of Virginia’s fundraiser event at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt MD.
In Boston, volunteers cooked Bharatiya meals for 250 people at the Cor Unum Meal Center a not-for-profit organization which provides free, nutritious meals in a safe environment to families in need.
At Columbus Ohio, volunteers distributed books, cleaned the compound, organized the storage, office, hardware and kitchen at Bharatiya Hindu Temple. Volunteers in Cleveland cleaned up the Weiss Field Metropark.
Volunteers from Philadelphia and Delaware participated in the fall cleanup and litter removal of the Newark Municipal Building in Newark, Delaware. In Atlanta Georgia, volunteers prepared and served brunch to guests at the Ronald McDonald House Charities. In Orlando FL, volunteers helped cleanup and organize the Hindu Society of Central Florida temple.
A photo album of Sewa Day 2016 activities in the USA is available here: https://goo.gl/photos/jnVcKSjtnXETCuUY7
About Sewa Day
Sewa Day is an initiative of Sewa International. “Sewa” a Sanskrit word meaning “service above self” is embedded in the Dharmic traditions of ancient Bharat. On Sewa Day, thousands of volunteers from the USA, UK, Canada and around the world come together to perform Sewa and experience the joy of giving in its truest sense. By participating in this collective endeavor, we hope that the seeds of Sewa are watered so that acts of kindness and public service are performed more often.
About Sewa International
Sewa International (www.sewausa.org) is a 501 (c)(3) Hindu faith-based charitable nonprofit service organization that works in the areas of disaster relief and rehabilitation, education and development (healthcare, women’s empowerment, child welfare, rural and tribal welfare, and refugee support). Sewa has 40 Chapters across the USA and serves regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin. The Sewa movement works with communities in need, and is active in 20 countries including USA, Canada, Bharat, and the UK.
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