Sewa Diwali’s annual food drives helped 245 organizations in 34 states in 2023

Volunteers of all ages, helping with food drives as part of the Sewa Diwali initiative. PHOTO: Courtesy Sewa Diwali

Sewa Diwali a charitable food drive organized by Dharmic communities across the United States, donated more than 502,000 pounds of food in 2023, benefiting over 245 organizations from 34 states, a charitable food drive organized by Dharmic communities across the United States, including food pantries, homeless shelters, worship houses, and schools. Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) volunteers participated in this drive and coordinated the collections and donations regionally and nationally, a press release from Sewa Diwali said.

This year’s Sewa Diwali saw active and spirited participation from Sikh Gurudwaras, Hindu and Jain temples, school districts, Interfaith communities, Indian American cultural and linguistic associations, and thousands of families and individuals all over the land. Several dharmic organizations such as VT Seva, Chinmaya Mission, Arya Samaj, Samskrita Bharati USA, and Sewa International collected food among their supporters.

Aimed at fostering togetherness and promoting the concept of Sewa (selfless service), Sewa Diwali provides a platform for Dharmic and Indic communities to organize food drives during Diwali. Starting in October to mark the celebrations of Diwali, the Dharmic Festival of Lights, the drive runs through the end of November. Sewa Diwali extended to 234 Cities and towns in 2023, its sixth consecutive year. Since its inception in 2018, the Sewa Diwali project has donated over 2 million pounds of food nationwide, the press release said.

Sewa plays a crucial role in an individual’s life from dharmic traditions passed down the generations and taught through scriptures and sayings. For example, all dharmic communities believe in the principle ‘parōpakārārtham idam sharīram’ (Sanskrit: broadly meaning “a person lives to serve others without discrimination”). Following these noble principles, this year’s donations went to diverse beneficiaries, such as the Native American charities in Oklahoma and the Buddhist monasteries in California among others.

Lisa Kelly, the Executive Director of Middlesex College Foundation in NJ, thanked Sewa Diwali for its generous donation. She wrote, “Your gift recognized the whole student community and helps to ensure basic needs will not be an obstacle in their journey. Because of your generosity, more students are able to EXPLORE, GROW AND THRIVE.”

US Congressmen Kevin Kiley and Ro Khanna of CA provided Special Congressional Recognition to Sewa Diwali, recognizing the program’s “commitment and passion for giving back to the community during the joyous and bright festival of Diwali”. John B. Muns, the mayor of Plano TX extended his appreciation to “HSS, Sewa International, and all other organizations for their leadership and the combined efforts in the Sewa Diwali initiative”.

Sewa Diwali’s National Coordinator Ganesh Ramakrishnan said, “SewaDiwali has nurtured the idea of helping others selflessly and consistently. This idea has positively impacted several hundreds of communities/neighborhoods across the US that are food insecure in 2023.” Sudheer Koppu from VT Seva, a national partner of Sewa Diwali, thanked all the organizations that came together in this year’s drive and commented, “Let’s do this more and create a ripple effect of positiveness and service!”



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