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Year of good cheer!

india Updated: Jan 12, 2012 17:20 IST
Shreya Sethuraman
Shreya Sethuraman
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

New Year’s here, and of course, we’re going to do what people usually do — meet friends, make merry, party hard and wish each other new beginnings and a happy new year. We could have given you a list of places to party and drink over the New Year weekend, but we’ve decided to do something different instead — give you ideas to help make somebody else’s year. After all, what better way to begin the new year than by doing a good deed.

Whether it is blankets, warm clothes, books, or just your time, use this New Year to give in to your altruistic side, and make someone smile.

The Khoj Foundation, founded in 2005, believes in the development of children living and working on the streets by connecting them to the mainstream. Board member Neha Sharma says, “People can join the Book Your Birthday programme, where they can celebrate their birthday with children.”

Spreading education is what prompted Lalita De Goederen, who runs Bagel’s Café in Delhi, to work with the Asha School-Projects Foundation. “Though most of our funding comes from Holland, what we need are teachers and volunteers to ensure that children keep coming to school,” she says. The school teaches children till they turn 11, after which they try to get the kids enrolled at local government schools.

Although there’s no dearth of volunteers, says Smile Foundation co-founder and executive trustee Santanu Mishra, but they need committed ones. “Coming every Sunday and teaching one subject won’t help.” Mishra also feels Indians need to develop a sense of charity, something that goes beyond the religious kind. The Smile Foundation endeavours to educate under-privileged kids, apart from conducting various activities for them.

29-year-old Atul Luthra might not have the time to go and teach in a school, but that hasn’t prevented his friends and him from going on a blanket distribution drive. “We’ve set a target of distributing 500 blankets this time and we are done with 450 already,” he says. Luthra and his friends conduct food drives throughout the year and give picture books to kids at construction sites. “People will love to give only if they have the chance to experience it, even once.” Soul Searchers, a spiritual group, conducts regular food drives, apart from giving clothing and medicines. “You don’t have to donate, just come to distribute food, it’s therapeutic,” says collegian Sarmistha Das. On New Year’s eve, the group plans to go on a quilt donating drive Giving can even be spending time with older people in the family and neighbourhood, says Himanshu Rath of Agewell Foundation, which works for the welfare of older persons. “All one needs to contribute is to talk to elders. They only need companionship, someone to listen to their feelings.”

Other NGOs such as Friendicoes SECA (Society for the Eradication of Cruelty to Animals) go beyond serving humans to touch the lives of animals. Board member Uma Menon says, “January’s going to be very cold. Covering dogs with a sack, placing a bowl of warm milk in front of them, will have them thank you for life.” As you sip a cuppa or a wine this chilly New Year’s eve, lend a thought to spreading warmth among the not-so-fortunate. You might make their day.