Written By: Anushka Nair and Gargi Wadodkar
During these unexpected times, there’s a helping hand providing masks and distributing food to those in need. This Covid-19 relief project is called the Mask Making Movement, and Kirti Ji is one of the lead coordinators. She has coordinated multiple volunteer-based projects through Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) before this pandemic arose. However, the pandemic did not stop Kirti Ji and others from volunteering. The ongoing conflict of COVID-19 has prompted the mandatory use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), particularly masks. As the demand for such equipment increased, there was a struggle to keep up. Kirti Ji believes in always helping others in need and decided to contribute in any way she could. Along with twenty-eight other volunteers, she started making masks on April 26th, 2020, in Houston, Texas.
Hence, the mask-making project was coordinated through Sewa International USA, an organization with close ties to many Sangh volunteers around the globe. Kirti Ji reached out to different volunteers and their families from her shakha to organize this project. She believes that “age is not a factor” in terms of being able to contribute one’s time for a good cause. Children cut labels for boxes, and many teenagers learned to stitch fabric.
Unfortunately, this project did not have a smooth start. Many families had certain restrictions or other underlying health conditions, which might have made them hesitant in taking part in this project. However, the accommodations allowed those families with underlying health conditions to stitch and donate masks from the comfort of their homes.
Each volunteer was assigned a specific task from one of the following: sewing the mask, cutting fabric and elastic, making material packages to be delivered to stitch, pick up/drop off, cutting labels, and steam cleaning to sanitize the masks.
In addition to the Mask Making Movement, Kirti Ji was also able to coordinate a food drive for those who tested positive for Covid-19. She realized that many of these patients faced hardships regarding food accommodations as they were restricted to their homes or were not strong enough to cook and support themselves. This food drive included seventeen volunteers who dropped off food to those in need from March 30th, 2020, to April 16th, 2020. Besides coordinating this project, Kirti Ji also volunteered to cook and pack the food. Along with donating each food packet, the selfless volunteer team also gave out multiple masks as supplements. The team also generously did grocery deliveries to patients and affected families. Furthermore, Kirti Ji accredited HSS shakhas to inculcate the “Seva Bhav” (service) among all the Swayamsevaks and Sevikas, which encouraged them to devote their time to such valuable projects. Over these past few months, the volunteers have donated many masks. On June 23rd, Kirti Ji distributed 214 masks to a drop-off center, which were distributed to locations to people in need. Kirti Ji says, “If you decide to help someone, there will be something for you. If you didn’t find it, you should look again”. Even when there are certain obstacles, everyone can help in their unique way. Kirti Ji is proud to see children, as young as nine, contributing to social efforts. This is Kirti Ji’s inspiration: to follow Dharma’s path and aid those who need help the most.