Akshaya Patra Raises $500,000 At SoCal Gala
By Balween Kaur
CERRITOS, CA – The annual gala of the Akshaya Patra SoCal chapter took place on September 23 at the Cerritos Sheraton, here. The event, filled to standing-room-only capacity, featured a talented actor, Omi Vaidya, as well as the Emmy-nominated emcee Rasha Goel. Attendees were also treated to a concert by Sandeep Kulkarni.
The gala successfully raised $500,000 to combat malnutrition among underprivileged children in India and contribute to the chapter’s mission of providing meals to 50,000 children annually.
Rika and Manu Shah, along with their Sarva Mangal Trust, generously donated a matching grant of $250,000, which was allocated towards the construction of a kitchen in the Mandvi/Mundra area of Gujarat. The Shahs had previously supported the creation of two kitchens with capacities of 50,000 in Bhuj, Gujarat, and 15,000 in Panvel, Maharashtra, along with facilitating the expansion and renovation of the Vizag kitchen.
Earlier the event opened with Chapter Chair Sonnal Ladva welcoming the audience, a prayer dance by Bela Modi and Vaidya who not only delivered a stand-up comedy act but also delighted the audience with scenes from his movies, including the renowned “Three Idiots.” Along with Goel, he also actively engaged in fundraising during the event, moving from table to table as attendees pledged their support.
The keynote address was delivered by attorney and social activist Navneet Chugh. In his thought-provoking speech, he reflected on the unique journey of the Indian diaspora in the United States and emphasized the concept of being “the chosen ones” due to their remarkable opportunities and achievements. He underlined the significant progress India has made since its economic crisis in 1991, with its share of the world GDP increasing to 5%. Chugh also noted persistent challenges, including poverty, lack of rural infrastructure, youth unemployment, environmental degradation, and gender disparities in literacy. He urged the audience to give back to society by engaging in community service and assisting those in need, both in India and the US.
Akshaya Patra, established in Bengaluru in 2000, is a prominent organization dedicated to providing hot and nutritious meals to government school children, serving as an incentive for regular attendance. The organization now reaches over two million children daily in 25,000+ schools across 15 Indian states and 2 union territories. It places a strong emphasis on nutritional quality and dietary preferences in its meals.