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Giving Day - July 13 - Shiksha Kendra

Dear Customers,

Education is the foundation for any kind of success. It is also the differentiator between rich and poor, knowledgeable and ignorant.

Aristotle and Plato in ancient Greece said that education is central to the well-being of the society. Unfortunately at this day and age, most third world countries are still struggling with literacy. According to UNESCO, today there are about 780 million non-literate adults in the world. Women make up two-thirds of all non-literates. And over 75% percent of all non-literates live in developing countries of Africa and Asia.

This year our team decided to adopt a school in India and dedicate one giving day every year to that school. Our mission to educate and empower young children in a remote village with little or no access to comforts of civilization as we know. And along with financial support, our team plans to spend time with the children, mentor them and help them become independent and self sufficient.

So with that in mind, we partnered with Seva Mandir, a non profit organization that works in 1200 villages across the north western region of India. Based on their recommendation, our team travelled to Badanga, a small remote village 35km away from the city of Udaipur. The only school in the village is Shiksha Kendra, an elementary school run by Seva Mandir. The people in the village mostly are day laborers that earn less than $2 a day. They travel miles in search of work. With limited resources, they barely make ends meet. Based on availability of work, their kids either sleep on a full stomach or an empty stomach. While their struggles are many, Seva Mandir has given them hope for their future, for their children. And we are happy to support this hope going forward.

So this month we pick Shiksha Kendra in Badanga Village, India. Please join me on July 13th in bringing hope through education to the village of Badanga. Shop more to give more.

Thank you for being our partner and believing in us.

Naheed Quaisar
Co-Founder and CEO

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No one can undermine the importance of eductaion! Governments of countries all over the world either ensure free elementary education or subsidize it. When something is so important and available to you free of cost, what could really prevent you from using it ? Surprisingly when faced with hardships like inaccessibility to the free schools, lack of proper clothing or footwear to walk in, lack of two square meals a day, one often does not give free education a second thought. Non Profit organizations like Seva Mandir are committed to addressing all these factors in their education initiatives called Shiksha Kendra. They build classrooms complete with teachers and supplies in hard to reach small villages.They Feed and nurture the kids along with kickstarting their journey of primary education.

These organizations need lots of support to ensure no child is left behind. This month join us as we pick a small school in a remote village in Rajasthan, run by Shiksha Kendra as a recipient of our Giving day benefits. Lets make a difference one child at a time.

Help us spread awareness and raise funds for Shiksha Kendras by sharing with your friends and family. Please choose the social media button of your choice on the right side of this page to share.

Seva Mandir

Seva Mandir is one of India’s leading development nonprofit organizations. It currently works with 360,000 people across 700 villages of southern Rajasthan, where over 90% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture and most people live on less than Rs. 20 ($0.35) a day. For over 45 years, Seva Mandir has worked in partnership with these people, not only to improve their material well-being, but to build stronger and more ethical communities. Through its programs on governance, health, education, sustainable use of natural resources, women’s empowerment, youth development, child care and social enterprise, Seva Mandir makes a tangible and transformative impact. Every year, 12,000 disadvantaged children receive a quality education in its schools; 8,000 women and children out of reach of hospitals are offered critical

health services; thousands more families achieve food security and sustainable livelihoods through the rehabilitation of hundreds of acres of land; and 9,000 women move closer to gender equality and financial independence through women’s groups and lending cooperatives.

The Village of Badanga is nestled in the beautiful valleys of Aravali hills, 35 Kms from Udaipur. It is a small village with 30-40 houses. Inhabitants of Badanga depend on Agriculture as their main source of livelihood.

As we entered the village, we could sense the poverty in that area. People were wearing worn-out clothes and were walking miles for just one bucket of water. It was a drought prone area with only one water tank for the entire village. That was the only source of drinking water for the villagers. Most of the houses in the village were built of bricks and had red tiled roofs. Villagers had no access to electricity and transportation.

Accessibility of the village was an issue as there were no highways or even paved roads that lead directly to Badanga. Seva Mandir runs a child education center here named Shiksha Kendra. Few of the children travel more than 1 km daily to come to this center while few of them live nearby. There is only one government school in this village, surprisingly there is no police station or hospital. If the need of either of those institutions arises, the inhabitants of Badanga travel to the neighbouring village which has both. The nearest private hospital is almost 10 km away.

Our team decided to take a field trip to this education centre and understand how they are set up. After a not so easy road trip, as we reached the centre we saw a class going on with some 20 -25 kids and a teacher. The centre was basically a room with 2 black boards, books, comics, toys, abacus, carom etc. They even had a camera to capture their daily studies which they would send to Seva Mandir. The centre worked as a pre-primary school where these kids were given an in-formal education before they join the nearby government school for higher education.

Seva Mandir - Shiksha Kendra

The class was divided into 3 groups A, B & C.
Group A was made up of kids who had been at the centre for the longest duration and were now ready to move to the government school. Group B comprised of kids who had spent some time at the centre but they still needed to learn more to be eligible to go to the government school. Kids in the group C were the newbies who recently started learning at the centre. We liked this concept of dividing the kids in the groups and teaching them as per their understanding level. The centre had all the basic amenities needed to keep the kids engaged for a good 5-6 hours. Group A was studying mostly on their own and group C was learning basic Alphabets.

Shiksha Kendra - Class Activity

Kids were in uniforms which we learnt were provided by Seva Mandir. Most of the kids had no shoes to wear but they were quite comfortable without shoes. Their bags and bottles were also provided by Seva Mandir. Not quite neatly dressed, but all had a beautiful smile on their face as they saw us interacting with them. Rightly said by someone, confidence is the best outfit. After our introduction with the kids we asked the teacher to continue with her work and we observed them for a while. We strongly felt, these kids needed shoes, one more uniform and hygienic food and water.

Kids were shy initially but slowly bonded up with our group. We started interacting with the kids and getting to know them. The kids recited poems and we were pleasantly surprised to see that each one knew a different poem. They recited poems loudly and even acted some out. It didn’t take the kids too long to become comfortable with us and soon they started enjoying our company. We used that opportunity to ask the kids about what they studied there, about their home, family, food and basic amenities that they have at home. We decided to switch things up and have some fun, so we had a dance session with the kids. They loved it and we spotted some good dance talent amongst them. Such an energetic bunch. We were shocked to learn that the source of their energy was a meal of “Sukhi Roti” or stale bread with water!! Most of the children said their father and mother worked together in fields to earn living.

One kid stood out amongst that spirited lot of boys and girls. Pani Ram, a young boy with a very interesting, almost unforgettable name. Such a lively and brilliant soul, he was the most intelligent kid in the class. There was hardly a thing this kid didn’t know. He outshined others in dance as well. We were confident that given the opportunity, this little boy could beat a 3rd-4th grade level kid in a quiz competition. To explain this kid’s stand out personality, envision this. As we were asking general questions to all the kids about themselves and their family, Pani Ram was busy cross questioning us in English. He managed sentences in English asking us ‘what was our name?’, ‘how were we?’etc. His favorite pastime was Kabaddi, a famous Indian sport. That boy left a lasting impression on us and we are so sure that with the right opportunities he would achieve great heights in his life.

Bagga, a shy but extremely intelligent girl also left a lasting impression on us. When we shared food that we had brought with us with the kids, most of them started eating right away but Bagga kept it in her bag. When questioned why she wasn’t eating it, she told us that she was saving it for her younger brother. Sibling love in such a tender age! That act of kindness was worth admiring. We spent some time with all the kids. We taught them how to write their names in English, gave some sketching lessons, played carom board. Time flew and we didn’t realize where the entire day had gone. Before we could leave, the Seva Mandir staff informed us that our tour wasn’t quite over yet and they were saving the best for last.
Much to our surprise, we were led to a sort of a crèche in the village which was called Balwadi. That part of the education centre was for little toddlers whose parents were daily wage masons and needed to travel to the nearest city every day to find work. Balwadi was the place where they laid the foundation of education for kids. We met some 10-15 toddlers sitting in a room with a care taker who not only fed them but also taught them basics. Seva Mandir took care of the food for those kids and ensured that proper nutrition was provided to those kids. They taught alphabets, letters and words to the kids. Once the kids were ok with words then they were taught poems and stories. After successfully completing Balwadi tenure, the kids were then ready to be moved to the center.

Pani Ram Student
Rise Against Hunger

Everyone on the planet has the right to the nutritious food necessary to live life to their full potential. Since its founding in 1998, Rise Against Hunger - an international hunger relief organization - has grown exponentially, and the ways in which the organization seeks to end hunger continue to evolve. From the implementation of sustainable community development projects to the organization’s meal packaging program that harnesses the passion of local volunteers, Rise Against Hunger strives to make a global impact on hunger by building resilience, self-sufficiency and empowerment among communities worldwide and show the world that it is, in fact, possible to end hunger by the year 2030. Around the world, just over 815 million people lack adequate food. One in nine people go to bed hungry each night.

RMD Pain and Palliative Care

RMD Pain Relief and Palliative Care, is a registered not for profit organization, established in 2005, located in T. Nagar, Chennai and is headed by Dr. Republica Sridhar a Palliative and Geriatric Care Specialist who has over 15 years of experience in caring for the terminally ill. The Trust is based out of Chennai, and has its operations focused primarily in Tamil Nadu, India. The organization provides pain relief and palliative care to terminally ill patients and their families through medical care and counselling. It also aims at providing out/in patient service and home visits, family support and counselling, grief and bereavement support. The beneficiaries of the care are terminally ill & geriatric patients from the economically weaker sections of the society.

Gift of Life Donor Program

Gift of Life Donor Program is the region’s non-profit organ and tissue donor program which serves as the link between those who want to be organ and tissue donors and those who are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant at one of the 15 regional transplant hospitals. Serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 44,500 organ transplants since 1974.
There are more than 115,000 men, women and children across the country waiting for heart, kidney, liver, lung, intestinal and pancreas transplants, including more than 5,400 in our region. Tens of thousands of other patients benefit from cornea, tissue and bone grafts each year as a result of individuals saying yes to tissue donation. Despite the many people who do say yes to organ and tissue donation, 20 people die every day waiting for a transplant.

International Women’s Health Coalition

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) advances the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people, particularly adolescent girls, in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. IWHC provides grants, technical assistance, and mentorship to women leaders and women’s rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East that are working to advance women’s and girls’ health and rights at local and regional levels. At the international level, IWHC brings pioneering ideas, evidence, and expertise to the forefront of multilateral negotiations on women’s rights and health, playing an active role in New York City at the United Nations (UN) headquarters, and in Washington, DC. By working closely with women’s organizations around the world, IWHC gains the perspectives of women on the ground and helps make their voices heard in the halls of power at global-level policy negotiations.

Save a Child’s Heart

SACH is an Israeli-based international humanitarian project providing life-saving heart surgeries and follow-up care for children from developing countries. Our mission is to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries, who suffer from congenital heart disease and to create medical centers of competence in these countries. One in every one hundred babies is born with congenital heart disease. Almost one third of them will need surgery during their first 12 months. Without surgery, 20% will die within weeks after birth. Presently, there are more than 1000 children on our waiting list. SACH is a hospital based project whose services are provided in Holon, Israel at the Wolfson Medical Center (WMC) by a team of 70 dedicated experts who, from chief surgeon to physiotherapist, volunteer their time without any payment. SACH has been recognized by the US government, European Union, and United Nations for its achievements. It is the only Israeli medical organization that the Palestinian Authority has a formal partnership with.

Seeing Stars Foundation

The Seeing Stars Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization whose mission is to support research and education on sports related concussion and sports related neurological injuries from the pee wee to the professional level. The Foundation is currently working on a national outreach program to train physicians, athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and management of sports related concussion. We are well-informed and concerned about the frequent occurrences of sports concussion, and most importantly the lack of assistance available to young athletes and youth sports organizations. Seeing Stars Foundation is helping to fill this gap to keep young athletes safe and healthy. Seeing Stars was founded by Neurologists with an expertise in sports related neurological issues in an effort to improve the quality of life of athletes of all ages. Our doctors serve as consultants and team physicians for the NFL, NHL, Professional Boxing, the NCAA, United States Tennis Association.

Toys for Tots

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future.

Friends of Seva Mandir, Inc. (FSM)

Friends of Seva Mandir, Inc. (FSM) is a 501(C)(3) public charity based in Edison, New Jersey. It is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes, supporting education of rural and tribal children, early child care and development, health, environment conservation, women’s empowerment and building stronger communities in underdeveloped areas of India. We have been registered as a charity since July 27, 2009.

Our activities include making grants to Seva Mandir, a much respected Indian voluntary organization working in South Rajasthan, India. Seva Mandir was founded in 1968 and is currently working in over 600 villages and reaching over 70,000 households.

Massachusetts Task Force 1

Massachusetts Task Force 1 ( MA-TF 1) Urban Search and Rescue Team (US&R) is located in Beverly, Massachusetts. Urban Search and Rescue teams are comprised of Police, Fire, EMS and Civilians (62 total people when deployed) and respond to major disasters under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Currently there are 150 people on the MA-TF 1 team.

Sponsored by the City of Beverly, Massachusetts, MA-TF 1 maintains the heritage established by the Lexington Minutemen at the onset of the American Revolution: the spirit of cooperation and volunteerism that sustains the vitality of a democratic society as well as the infrastructure of emergency response. As Hurricane Sandy turned into Superstorm Sandy, MA-TF 1 was activated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to stand at the ready as a state asset.

Helena Food Share

Since 1987, Helena Food Share has been providing food to our neighbors in need. At Helena Food Share, it is our mission to serve our neighbors in need by providing food in a respectful and dignified way and by working with others to eliminate hunger in the greater Helena area. Our vision, simply, is to create a hunger-free community. We know that 1 in 7 residents of Helena struggles with hunger. 1 in 5 Helena children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Families come to the Helena Food Share pantry because they are facing difficult times.
These folks need help while they experience difficulty paying medical bills, struggling with a disability, finding their way through a layoff, or they’re simply doing their best to make ends meet with a low or fixed income. No matter the situation, we are dedicated to serving our customers with dignity and respect.

4 Paws For Ability

In 1995, Karen Shirk was told she was too disabled to receive a service dog. She decided to make sure no one else ever had to hear those words.

4 Paws for Ability is the embodiment of Karen’s vision - a nonprofit organization that breeds, socializes, trains, and places service dogs with children and veterans. Since its inception in 1998, 4 Paws has paired over 1,100 trained service dogs to people living with a variety of disabilities. With a team of 75 employees and over 600 volunteers, 4 Paws now places over 100 dogs per year. 4 Paws dogs (and the humans they love and serve) can be found in almost all 50 statesas well as Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Dogs trained through 4 Paws meet the criteria for ‘service animals’ as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Covenant House

Covenant House New Orleans was founded on the edge of the French Quarter 30 years ago to provide a safe haven for homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth (ages 22 and under). We have provided over 20,000 kids with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, educational and vocational support, individual and family counseling, job readiness and placement, short & long-term housing, life skills, and more.

The vast majority of our youth have endured physical and/or sexual abuse and have also experienced the violence of the streets. Our counselors estimate 85% suffer from some form of traumatic stress disorder. Tulane’s Cowen Institute estimates there are 26,000 at-risk youth in our community. Our first priority is always to reunite our youth with healthy, functional family. For the majority of our kids for whom family is not an option, we give them an educational & vocational assessment and help them find a job that suits their skills.

Soldiers Angel

Soldiers’ Angels provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families and a growing veteran population. Soldiers’ Angels was established in 2003 by the mother of a son who was deployed to Iraq. She began sending care packages to her son and was then asked to not only send more care packages to many more deployed but to also assist with other needs. September 11th was a catalyst that inspired Americans to support the military and help out any way they could. Soldiers’ Angels was created as an opportunity for them to provide that support with care packages, hand-sewn blankets, letters, cards, and other items from ‘home’.

In just 14 years, since this small beginning of sending care packages, Soldiers’ Angels has grown to over 12 Programs with over 100,000 volunteers nationwide. Most of the programs and services offered by Soldiers’ Angels are performed by volunteers who work tirelessly supporting our nation’s veterans, wounded warriors, deployed service members and their families.

Asha for Education

On May 12th, HPFY donated 10% of the day’s sales to ‘Asha for Education’. Asha for Education took roots in 1991 when a group of students including Deepak Gupta, Sandeep Pandey, and VJP Srivatsavoy from the University of Berkeley, CA got together and discussed ways to bring about a socio-economic change in India. The group was formed with a belief that education is a requisite to bring about the much needed socio economic change in India. It was named ‘Asha’, meaning ‘hope’. Since then, Asha for Education has grown via its chapters, and today has more than 65 chapters worldwide.

Asha for Education is a 501(c)(3) organization in the US. Each year, our work touches the lives of several thousands of children across a few hundreds of projects. We have no offices, and 100% of our efforts are driven by unpaid volunteers. All donations are tax deductible, and we have earned a reputation for sending >98% of donations to our projects.

Doug Fluite, Jr. Foundation for Autism

On April 14th, HPFY donated 10% of the day’s sales to ‘Doug Fluite, Jr. Foundation for Autism’. The Flutie Foundation awards grants to individuals and families dealing with the challenges of autism.

The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc. was established in 1998 by former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and his wife, Laurie, in honor of their son, Doug, Jr. who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Through their General Grants, Joeys Fund, Allison Keller Technology fund and other programs and initiatives, The Flutie Foundation awards grants to individuals and families dealing with the challenges of autism as well as to the organizations that support them. The grants that they provide give individuals with autism access to much needed educational and other support services, autism specific active lifestyles programs and assistance with transitioning to adult independence. In addition The Flutie Foundation, through their grant programs, awards grants to nonprofit organizations that provide direct services such as family support, education, advocacy and recreational opportunities for individuals with autism.

Womens Center of Danbury

On March 10th, two days after International Women’s day, HPFY donated 10% of the day’s sales to Women’s of Danbury. Since 1975, the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury has been a safe haven as the sole provider of services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield County areas. Each year the Center serves over 25,000 individuals from our area communities. Our FREE and confidential services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Center’s key areas of focus include emergency shelter and support services, counseling and advocacy, crisis intervention, and community education, primary prevention and training.

All funds provided to the Center support our critically needed domestic violence, sexual assault, and resource services for adults and children in our 13-town service area, including: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman and Washington.



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