Joys of Giving: Kindness Movement

February 22, 2023

Joys of Giving is a nonprofit started by Vanesha Hari and Varshini Hari in 2016, with a mission of bringing quality education to anyone in need. However, during the recent pandemic, they discovered there is also an emerging issue of children who lack access to meals. If kids don’t know where their next meal will come from, how can they possibly focus on education and skills? Joys of Giving has a unique vision of contributing to both, fighting youth hunger and bringing educational equity especially for underserved and girls in STEM (gender disparity).

This story took place in United States

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(Vanesha Hari and Varshini Hari)

“Do all girls attend school?” was a naive question we asked our parents when we were on an international trip to India at only 8 and 10 years old. We didn’t know any better and assumed that every child normally attends school as a part of growing up. However, shockingly we learned that we were wrong when we saw young girls doing chores at home to support their families financially and did not have a choice to attend school. Being the same age as these young girls and having opportunities and privileges, we instantly felt something was unfair. Honestly, we were so young that we didn’t quite understand the depth and significance of this question. However, we did feel that we could do something about this and start with small acts of kindness.

When we flew back home to Seattle, we persisted, and pondered over our experience and the question around educational equity, especially as we were helping our mother with donations to local homeless shelters and foster homes. We learned that in Washington state, homelessness numbers were so high and there was a significant number of youths in foster homes and others who did not have access to education and opportunities.

We then started to realize that this is a global issue where youth, especially girls – who have the power to build and influence families and communities, did not have access to education. They simply didn’t have a voice that could be heard! We knew we had to start small and thus began our initiative called Joys of Giving.

We started with bringing our joy of baking and STEM to spread the love for education and raise funds to support nonprofits to bring educational equity. We grew from raising our first few hundred dollars with baking to over $20,000 over the last seven years impacting over 1,000+ youth across the nation.

We have inspired and helped bring on several youth volunteers in our community to help us with weekly projects of making sandwiches for homeless shelters, cooking meals for the unhoused, and hosting STEM workshops to youth – especially those who are underserved – on a national scale. We recently also had our first youth collaboration for our baking fundraiser to help the local school district free meals service and this was especially significant during the pandemic when schools were shut down.

Over the years, we have come a long way in connecting with the depth of our first naive question which sparked our curiosity and the need to start a kindness movement in the community. Our biggest inspiration was the book by Malala. The one quote that inspires us is when she stated, “They cannot stop me. I will get my education if it is in the home, school, or any place.”

Our journey has just begun, and we have learned that, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!” When we started out with our initiative, we did not know that as young kids we could make a difference but now realize that anyone can – regardless of their age – and all it takes is kindness and compassion with genuine heartfelt efforts. In the end, we imagine a world in which every individual from all walks of life has equal opportunities and can access the profound power of education and technology without going hungry to bed!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

To help contribute or be part of our volunteering journey, please reach out and connect on Instagram (@joysofgivingpnw) and Facebook (@joysofgivingseattle).

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