Glimpses of Utsav Youth Group Activities
In 2009, Utsav’s youth volunteer group was formed by Dr. Mitra Choudri to do charitable deeds. Since then, the youth group has held fundraisers, raised awareness, organized clothing drives, and other youth initiatives. These activities help develop positive experiences, social skills, and volunteering opportunities among the youth. In recent years, Dr. Sangita Biswas and Mrs. Rupa Chowdhury have been leading the youth group’s activities. In 2021-2022, the Utsav youth group donated to “Project Breathe'', ran a donation drive for Afghan refugees, hosted lunch for women and child residents of St. John’s Program for Real Change, and donated essentials to Ukrainian Refugees through the House of Bread and World Relief Organization. Recently, the Utsav Youth Volunteer group held A Musical Evening, a concert fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The event was a great success with more than 250 spectators at the Folsom City Hall. It raised several thousands of US dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. From the money raised, Utsav Youth Volunteers pledged to donate $364 for Prasad during Durga Puja.
This is the first time in Utsav history that Youth Volunteers along with Utsav adults raised over $16,000 (in 2021) and $5,000 (till August 2022), that’s totalling over $21,000 (2021-22) solely for charitable causes. We are thankful to all the dornos, volunteers, and you. Please stay tuned for upcoming charitable activities.
St John's Program for Real Change supports formerly homeless women to break the cycle and build a new life for themselves and their children. The Program provides the essential tools to change the trajectory of their lives through a comprehensive residential program!
Utsav Youth Volunteer Group has organized a lunch for women and children’s residents of Saint John’s Program for Real Change on December 11, 2022 (Sunday) from 10:30 AM through 1:00 PM (“Meal Serving Day”). There are about 50 lunched has been served.
Utsav has donated $1000 to Sacramento Food Bank on December 21, 2022.
Another check of $500 was donated to Saint John's Program for Real Change December 21, 2022.
In March 2021, India was hit hard by COVID-19’s second wave and the health system infrastructure crumbled. There was a lack of resources in India during this time. The Utsav Youth Group helped address the issue by raising money for a charity called Project Breathe, which bought oxygen concentrators and, breathing stations, and funded COVID-19 response initiatives for hospitals in rural parts of India. One oxygen concentrator which could serve around 10 patients at a time costs around $500. The need for these medical supplies was high, and Utsav stepped up to help.
Utsav’s Youth Volunteers contributed to the effort by initiating a graduation-lei fundraiser to raise funds and awareness in the Sacramento community. For this fundraiser, individuals would hand-weave and decorate personalized leis. They came in the color of the graduate’s school to add to the school spirit! Through our (Youth Volunteers) fundraiser, we raised $1,450. We sold 72 leis to 50 different families in three weeks. The money went through Project Breathe and was used to install oxygen concentrators in the suburbs of West Bengal in India. Many families were able to get this access to critical support, thanks to Utsav’s contributions which totaled $15,000.
For details, please visit: https://www.utsavsac.org/utsav-charity-project-breathe
Afghan Donation Drive
In August 2021, the United States anticipated welcoming 75,000 Afghan Refugees evacuated under humanitarian parole. Over 5,000 refugees were expected to come to the Sacramento area. The San Juan Unified School District welcomed Afghan students and their families. They set up new programs to collect donations for these Afghan families.
Utsav’s Youth Group set up a donation drive to help San Juan Unified support the incoming refugees. This drive aimed to collect essentials and clothing to help with resettlement. Utsav’s Youth Group and adult members generously donated to this cause. During Utsav’s 20th anniversary celebration of Durga Puja, we promoted the drive and had a drop-off donation box. In addition, during Julliette Gordon Low's Birthday (the founder of Girl Scouts), girl scouts from Troop #1290 made donations, which were given to the San Juan Unified School District to distribute to members of the Afghan community affected by the crisis. We hope this effort will allow hundreds of refugees to feel more at home in Sacramento. The drive was concluded on October 31, 2021, because we had amassed a surplus of donations. On that day, the youth volunteers gathered to celebrate the success!
Donation to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
Utsav donated $1,000 to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services on November 24, 2021, to help families during Thanksgiving.
Arts and Craft Fair
To raise funds for incoming initiatives, such as hosting a lunch for St. John’s Program for Real Change and support for Ukrainian refugees, we repeated the graduation-lei fundraiser which was used for Project Breath in 2021. This year, Utsav’s Youth Volunteers held several meetings in which they produced leis and made promotion plans. Thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers, $1,902 was raised and 102 leis were sold to families all around Sacramento.
Utsav Youth Volunteers had a booth during the Arts and Crafts Fair to fundraise for St. John’s Program for Real Change and provide aid for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. It was held on May 14, 2022, at North Natomas Regional Park, Sacramento. Our booth advertised and sold graduation leis created by youth and adult volunteers. Volunteers also sold artwork from India created by Pala Khastagir and hand-painted pots by Santana Das.
The fair was attended by many Utsav members and the Natomas community. Money raised at the fair ($467), in addition to that raised during the graduation-lei fundraiser, will be used to help incoming Ukrainian families and host a lunch at St. John's Program for Real Change.
St John's Program for Real
Change Lunch Service
The St. John’s Program for Real Change lunch service is another successful event that Utsav Youth Group participated in. St. John’s is a program supporting women and children who are combating abuse, homelessness, and poverty. The program uses a rehabilitative system, offering a variety of services such as therapy and counseling to help families get back on their feet.
On June 25, 2022, volunteers at this event donated groceries and collectively made lunch for approximately 75 people. Food such as salad, chicken, fruit, and cupcakes were served. Snigdha Banerjee donated the salad kit, while Hem Sarkar and Manomita Patra, donated the fruits. The provision of these types of lunches and dinners everyday can be difficult; however, the event has provided financial relief and helped St. John’s provide food for many people.
World Relief Donation
The Utsav Youth Group also raised numerous donations for World Relief Sacramento. The organization is committed to helping refugees. Volunteers collected and bought various necessities such as toiletries and bedding and organized a drop off on July 16, 2022. At World Relief Sacramento, volunteers received a brief overview of how refugees set up their lives once they reach Sacramento. The Youth Group was successful in bringing a large amount of donations that were used to welcome refugees and aid them in starting their new lives.
House of Bread Donation
The House of Bread Church is another organization committed to aiding refugees, especially ones escaping the war in Ukraine. Many people who attend the church have family and friends who are refugees, so the organization aims to raise donations for those who can settle in the United States. Volunteers collected necessities for this event on July 22, 2022, to donate to incoming refugees. Church leaders educated the volunteers on what refugees escaping the war face, and how they can settle in a new country. A large amount of donations was collected during this event which is now used for refugees coming with limited supplies from Ukraine.
Utsav Youth Volunteers organized and participated in was “A Musical Evening”, which was a concert fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was hosted on August 14, 2022, at Folsom City Hall.
This event included a special performance by Pandit Binay Pathak from Sohini Music Academy, along with many other talented performers presenting various acts.
There was a spectacular show of Indian classical dance performances, as well as songs sung in English, Hindi, and Bengali. Various musical instruments such as the piano, guitar, and sitar were played by youth artists.
Performers included Pt. Binay Pathak, Samridhi Mazumdar, Shohini Chakrobarty, Srija Bhowmik. Nirvik Basuroy, Suhaan Devavarapu, Urshita, Ikshita, Ayigiri Nandini, Ria Vallurupalli, Rayna Vallurupalli, Rewa Vallurupalli, and various other artists.