More than 750 people came to enjoy a fundraising concert headlined by popular singing duo Samir Date and Dipalee Somaiya, Nov. 11, at the Yellow Box auditorium in Naperville, Illinois. The event was organized by the Chicago team of the well-known non-profit, Akshaya Patra.
Organizers had solicited donations before the event. The four levels of sponsorships — Platinum ( $10,000 donation), Gold ($5000 donation), Silver ($2500 donation) and Bronze ($1000 donation) were offered.
“We’re gratified with the level of pre-event commitment. We had five Platinum sponsors, one Gold sponsor, seven Silver sponsors and 38 Bronze sponsors for a total commitment of $111,000. We are very grateful to many long time supporters, and are excited to have many new supporters,” Himanshu Patel, one of the lead organizers, is quoted saying in a press release.
In addition, a pledge drive during the program raised an additional $24000, the press release said.
“What was most satisfying was that so many people pledged additional support during (the) drive. It shows that people in our community, no matter what their income level, support a good cause when they are informed about it. Their generosity is indeed touching,” said Dipak Kapadia, also one of the main organizers.
B.V. Jagdeesh, member of the Board of Directors for Akshaya Patra USA, delivered the keynote speech. “We, who are successful have collective responsibility to help disadvantaged children in India stay in school. And, one very effective way to do this is to support Akshaya Patra. By providing mid day meals in government schools, Akshaya Patra keeps more children in school and improves their learning ability,” Jagdeesh said. Vandana Tilak, another Akshaya Patra board member, and Emily Rosenbaum, CEO of the organization’s US branch, were also present at the event.
Previous events that have helped raise funds in the Chicagoland area include a Gujarati play which raised $70,000. Now, the Nov. 11, Bollywood music concert had doubled the amount, organizers said. Chicago team announced it would continue both models of fundraising – benefit galas that focus on high net worth individuals, and concerts that reach a broad cross-section of the community.
Akshaya Patra, which holds similar fundraisers around the country, describes itself as one of the world’s largest NGOs that provides midday meals to 1.6 million children 232 days a year in government schools in India. It partners with central and state governments in Idnia to make this happen. Akshaya Patra operates 31 centralized kitchens in 12 states. Three of the largest states are Karnataka( 486,000 children), Gujarat (395,000 children), and Uttar Pradesh (212,000 children). Other states are: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telengana and Tripura, according to the press release.