BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, February 2, 2023: Sprinkling Smiles sprinkled plenty of smiles across the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office on January 27, 2023, serving up officials with Indian lunch in celebration of India’s 74th Republic Day. The luncheon was served at the Forsyth County Sherriff HQ in Cumming.
“Police and citizens don’t always get along in every community. But this community (Indian-American) is a partnership. You want your kids to do well at school. We want your kids to do well in school. We want your kids to be safe. We want you to be safe and you want to help us achieve that for you. And so it is truly a community partnership. Your community has become such an integral part of who we are,” Ron H. Freeman, Sheriff, Forsyth County said.
Highlighting the significance of the gesture, Sheriff Freeman said that it is “proof that the (Indian) community is integrating with the broader Forsyth County community” and that’s what makes the county and the department strong. “There are so many things that we are aligned with – 95%. The 5% cultural differences are the really cool differences between us. That’s where we get to learn about each other and get to experience the differences in culture that might be there. But what we want for our kids, what we want for our families, what we want for our lives are nearly identical,” he noted.
Sprinkling Smiles was founded by couple Swati and Sudhir Aggarwal in 2020 with the purpose of helping frontline workers, specifically the BMC workers and the police during the lockdown. The initiative was aimed at providing food to the frontline workers, reaching out to the senior citizens who could not go out to buy groceries, extending service to workers on daily wages. The reach was extended further with donation of blankets during winters both in India and the US. They have donated 1, 25,000 meals, over 2000 blankets, and assisted over 300 Senior citizens thus far. Their goal for 2023 is to aid 3000 students in India.
Their recent effort was to reach out to frontline workers in Georgia and the luncheon kick started the initiative.
“We celebrated the 74th Indian Republic Day with the sheriffs of Forsyth County in Georgia where we took an opportunity to thank them for all the great work that they do. They are the reason our community is safe, and our kids go to the school and come back with a smile on their face. So, we took an opportunity, and along with over 20 volunteers who joined us to thank them. Over 60 sheriffs were present for the lunch on January 27,” Aggarwal said.
While some of the officers tasted Indian food for the first time, others already knew their favorites. Chicken Tika Masala and Samosa turned out to be the Sheriffs’ favorite Indian dishes.
“When the 911 call comes in, you don’t ask us who you are, which country we come from, if we are male or female. You are just there. Just knock on the door and deliver at least street coat sign justice.
As per U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Forsyth County, Georgia in 2021 was 260,206, 47.2% up from the 176,736 who lived there in 2010. The County has also witnessed a marked growth in its South Asian population which rose from 6.2% to nearly tripling Forsyth’s makeup at 17.95% in the same timeframe. Now home to over 45,000 South Asians – largely made up of immigrants from India, Forsyth County houses the largest percentage of Asians of any county in Georgia.
Addressing needs of its burgeoning diverse population, Sheriff Freeman and the county have set up a Citizens Advisory Board which, as he explained, acts as “conduit between the department and the community.” Recognizing that certain members of diverse communities may not be open to directly approaching the police about issues of concern, he said it makes it easier for citizens to speak to someone from their own communities to discuss the matter. He noted that it works both ways – the members on the board relay any information to their communities or bring it to the county’s notice, if deemed fit. Praveen Puram, a member of the Citizens Advisory Board added that quarterly meetings and outreach programs such as these build stronger bonds and play an important role in keeping communications open.
Aggarwal thanked sponsors Spicy Desi Food Truck, Atlanta Desi Events, Manage My Taxes, and volunteers who supported the cause.
More information about Sprinkling Smiles can be found at