Atlanta, GA, December 28, 2023: A Sanskrit verse, परोपकारार्थमिदं शरीरम् (Paropkararthmidam Shariram), signifies that the individual body is meant for benevolence or service to others. In line with this, ‘Sewa’ goes beyond specific roles, capacities, and explicates the essence of selfless service of an individual or organization for the collective well-being of society.
In Hindu Dharma, selfless service, i.e., Sewa, is one of the means of spiritual development that advocates Karma without any expectations for personal gain.
Sewa Diwali is an initiative by Dharmic communities, individuals, and organizations like Yoga, Spiritual, Hindu/Buddhist/Sikh/Jain centers, Temples, Gurudwaras, Linguistic, and Indian socio-cultural organizations who believe in the Sewa Dharma, i.e., Service to Humanity is Service to Divinity.
The Sewa Diwali food drive is organized as part of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which takes place in October/November annually, depicting the message to light it up for those in need!
As a part of Sewa Diwali, organizations and numerous individuals in the Atlanta area came together to collect donations for food pantries from October 16th to November 30th, 2023.
The Sewa Diwali food drive was coordinated by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), along with other organizations rooted in the Dharmic value of Sewa, such as Sanatan Mandir, Heartfulness, Shivaji Maharaj Antarrashtriya Pariwar, Kerala Hindu Organisation, Interfaith Atlanta, Shri Rama Mandir, Shiv Shakti Guyanese Mandir, Hanuman Mandir, RAMA (Ananthaadi Rayara Matha), Samskrita Bharathi & Shakti Mandir Atlanta. Schools from COBB County like Wheeler High School, Campbell High School, and student clubs like 4H Club also participated in this food drive.
During this food drive, hundreds of “Karyakartas” (volunteers) contributed, many of whom were young, energetic children. They coordinated the drive at their school, and many of them made their homes “collection centers” for their neighbors to contribute. People were encouraged to donate canned goods and non-perishable items, which could be donated to food pantries or underprivileged areas.
In COBB County cities like Marietta, Smyrna, Kennesaw, over 6200 pounds of food were donated to MUST Ministries. MUST Ministries Relations officer Richie Jarrett appreciated the Sewa Diwali volunteers’ tremendous efforts. In the recognition letter, Richie mentioned the staggering increase in needy people around the neighboring area and the Sewa Diwali support received at a pivotal time. Two years ago, MUST Ministries had 33,000 unique clients seeking assistance, whereas this year it will have over 70,000 unique clients seeking assistance. HSS volunteers expressed gratitude to all donors from COBB county, which helped meet the needs of MUST Ministries.
In the suburb of Atlanta, Cumming, Suwanee, and Alpharetta, over 2000 pounds of food were collected. 700 pounds of food were donated to Section 8 underprivileged families. This event was graced by the community and many HSS, Sewa International volunteers. Also in this community, Sewa International Americorps conducts weekly tutorials throughout the year. 1122 pounds of food were donated to North Fulton Community Charities and recognized by Melody Fortin (Director of Food Pantry Services). NFCC shared their need to feed over 200 families daily. The Sewa Diwali donated food will help NFCC to feed families for approximately 50 days. 223 pounds of food were donated to Atlanta Food Bank and were accepted by Jorge Villalobos.
Similarly, in Savannah Georgia, Sewa Diwali food drive was organized with the collaboration of SGVP Gurukul USA Hindu Temple. 486 pounds of food were collected and donated to America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. Mary Jane Crouch, Executive Director of America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, recognized Sewa Diwali food drive support in helping people at risk for hunger.
In the current challenging economic times, when many people are struggling to make ends meet, the ‘Karyakartas’ (volunteers) of Dharmic organizations in Atlanta metaphorically illuminated the suburbs just like the lamps of Diwali through their selfless act of Sewa.