Wednesday 23 January, 2019
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Giving back: Atlanta Indian-Americans spread holiday cheer

Supporters of the blanket drive.

BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE

Atlanta, GA, December 31, 2018: With crimes and violence making headlines daily, it gets harder to believe that empathy and kindness continue to serve as beacons of humanity. The quest for compassion however, often leads to pleasant surprises that restores our faith in humanity. Resilient and resplendent, the generosity of human spirt continues to thrive in different forms.

This season of joy, we attempt to highlight efforts of community members and organizations that are contributing to society in their own ways.

Rina Gupta, no stranger to the Atlanta Indian community is currently collecting blankets to distribute among the homeless this winter, through a Blanket Drive named Got Blanket. Her efforts are coordinated by 27th Investments (she currently represents), Federation of Indian-American Associations of GA (FIA), World Peace Center and Narayan Seva Sansthan. With a goal of 5000 blankets, Gupta has commitments for 4000, of which she has 2000 in possession. She personally hands over the blankets along with donors and volunteers.

Brad Raffensperger, Republican Georgia Secretary of State-elect has endorsed the project saying “I want to accolade and affirm what you are doing. This is the very best of humanity,” he said.

Rina Gupta.

So what inspired Gupta? When Gupta set out to savor a walk on the streets of Atlanta on a cool fall evening, she hardly knew the view was all she was about to relish. A sudden gush of cold air forced her to submit to the warmth of her coat. “It’s cold.” l heard a voice crackle behind me. I glanced over my shoulder to find a woman looking directly at me with a pair of eyes that had obviously lived more of the city than I had seen,” says Gupta. “You may think it’s the cold, but it’s the wind that breaks you, doesn’t it?” the woman had said to Gupta.  Gupta was moved by that meek smile that attempted to mask her obvious inadequacies. The tattered clothing, she pretended to keep her warm drew Gupta’s attention, igniting inspiration for the drive.

“In this season of giving, I find it my moral responsibility to give back to the society even if it makes a minuscule difference in tipping the scales of justice,” says Gupta. You can find more information at goblanket.org.

The Bhat family.

“Charity to us means help another person achieve their goal and to encourage them in reaching out to their dreams,” says Dr. Annapoorna Bhat. Doctor couple Annapoorna Bhat, rheumatology specialist and Subramanya Bhat, a leading pulmonologist are fortunate in many ways and often find ways to share their blessings. The couple attended the AAPI s Global Healthcare Summit in Mumbai, inaugurated by President of India, also donating for AAPI  research scholarship in India. The couple recently matched donations from NKK and Havyaka Association of Atlanta to donate to Rotary club of Kodagu (India) for flood relief efforts in the area.

They have handed various scholarships including High school scholarships through NKK since 2007, Dream makers scholarship at Clayton state university, College scholarships through Hindu Temple of Atlanta, and high school scholarships in three Indian schools. They contribute financially to AIM for Seva, NKK, GAMA, AKMG , GAPI and AAPI and victims of natural disasters. The couple contribute money and time at free clinics, Good Shepherd and Hope, serving Clayton and Henry counties. They are both Rotarians involved in many national and international community service projects.

Rekha Pradeep (second from right).

“Charity means helping others without any expectation. It is an act of love and kindness between other human beings which is beyond caste, creed or religion, “says Rekha Pradeep, volunteer and wife of Pradeep Vittalamurthy, founding member of RAMA. Devotees of Ananthaadi Rayara Matha (RAMA) volunteered at Milton Senior Living center this Christmas Eve spreading some cheer and joy to its residents. The team spent time handing out gifts and entertaining the senior citizens, with one of the teenagers playing flute for them, baking cookies and talking to them about their experiences.

“I also had fun giving gifts and watching them play. I even liked decorating cookies,” exclaims Inchara, 7. “It was a fun learning experience,” says Naksha, 14. “I got to play with some of the seniors and it was fun. I felt very humble and kind after meeting them all,” says Aryan, 12.

We commend and salute many other countless people and organizations across Atlanta that serve for the betterment of society in their own ways all through the year.

Christmas or Diwali, the spirit of giving is always welcome. Whether it is a small gesture as the airport janitor offering his home-cooked mac and cheese to my daughter since eateries were closed at midnight, or a life-saving act such as my friend Veena Rao, Publisher/Editor of NRI Pulse donating her bone marrow to a complete stranger, an act of kindness and care is the most valued and treasured gift from human to another.

As Winston S. Churchill put it, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

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