Written by: By Shuban Tiwari (Grade 10) and Onkar Gore (Grade 11)
As tensions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to increase, several Hindu organizations in New England are collaborating to provide relief to those in need. We had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Shruti Mankad, one of the coordinators of this relief effort.
A dentist by profession, Mankad also volunteers for community service projects in her home state of Massachusetts during her spare time. She currently serves as the general secretary for the New England region of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS).
The New England region was particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, HSS New England, together with Sewa International Boston and several other community organizations, came together to help those in need. They took up six main projects, including engaging medical professionals in providing medical services to the underserved and donating personal protection equipment to essential workers.
According to Mankad, the most popular project was Mask Mission. Wearing masks is a crucial way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but when the pandemic first hit, masks quickly became unaffordable and often unavailable. The Hindu community of New England promptly responded by making homemade masks and distributing them for free to essential workers and those in need. Over 175 people across New England participated in this mask-making effort and donated 2,700 masks in the first three months of the pandemic.
Mask Mission not only helped thousands of people stay safe themselves but also kept the community safe too. Making masks widely available means more people can go out on walks after staying inside for so long, purchase essentials from the grocery store, and even see distant family members from afar, Mankad said.
In addition to Mask Mission, the New England team initiated other projects, such as serving food at local food pantries and providing essential services to the elderly, first responders, and teachers. The New England team also raised funds for the Dharma Center in Massachusetts, a community service center that provides food for low-income families, many of whom were affected by the economic crisis. Volunteers collected $20,000 for the Dharma Center’s food provision services.
Mankad said she was overwhelmed with the volunteers’ response. Small acts of kindness and generosity go a long way toward helping others, and the New England team plans to continue their community service efforts even after the pandemic ends.
“Personally, I was motivated by the selflessness of the volunteers I saw around me. I wanted to do as much as I can, even more than I can,” Mankad said. “Coming together to serve society and give back to our community are what’s most important in times like these.”
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As tensions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to increase, several Hindu organizations in New England are collaborating to provide relief to those in need. Over 175 people across New England participated in this mask-making effort and donated 2,700 masks in the first three months of the pandemic.