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Spread the cheer of giving

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The urge to give Suriya and Shriya distribute books while announcing the Joy of Giving Week
The urge to give Suriya and Shriya distribute books while announcing the Joy of Giving Week

The Joy of Giving Week aims to bring together at least 20 million Indians to do their bit. Are you on board, asks Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Sandwiched between Dasara and Deepavali is a week during which we can pause from being self-indulgent and ‘give’ something instead. The Joy of Giving Week (JGW) is a pan-India initiative, from September 27 to October 3, which will see thousands of Indians giving in some way or the other. You can ‘give’ in terms of money, time, skill or through acts of kindness. The JGW has managed to draw people as diverse as millionaires and dabbawallahs, actors and roadside foodstall owners, students and corporates.

Be involved

Ever since film-maker Jayendra’s ad campaigns went on air, the JGW has gathered momentum. The JGW was conceptualised by GiveIndia.org, floated by Venkat Krishnan. “We wanted to do something that will involve people across the country. We were thinking of a Joy of Giving Day at first and then developed it to JGW,” he says.

Krishnan, unlike most of his peers at IIM-Ahmedabad, chose to chart his own course of entreprenuership instead of a cushy white collar job and hefty pay packets. “The IIM tag helped me get the right connections. I was never into mainstream corporate work anyway,” he adds.

Activist-actor Nandita Das calls the JGW initiative a “celebration of unity” and points out how it’s only befitting that the JGW coincides with Gandhi Jayanti. Corporates, schools and colleges will have Joy Boxes to collect funds, clothes, etc. Several health camps have been lined up in hospitals and health care centres across India. Concerts, writing workshops, contests, training programmes for different skillsets — driving, painting, etc will be held; you can even opt to forgo one day’s salary to contribute for any cause you choose. The ‘giving supply chain’ extends to acts of kindness — visit an orphanage, home for the elderly or disabled and do some volunteer work or simply lend a patient ear to the inmates. The possibilities are endless and the promoters of JGW have been inundated with suggestions pouring in from remote corners of the country.

As with every social activity, a slew of celebrities have endorsed JGW — Sachin Tendulkar, Mallika Sarabhai, Azim Premji, Rahul Dravid, Pullela Gopichand, Prakash Padukone, Shriya Saran, actors Venkatesh, Suriya, Rahul Bose and others. Beyond all the glamour, several individuals and organisations have volunteered to help in their own way. If one organisation wants to trek across villages and provide solar lamps, another individual wants to provide a decent burial for abandoned bodies. Therein lies the success of the campaign.

The JGW has no monitoring body that will check if the funds/initiatives are reaching the true beneficiaries. “It’s an open-ended concept. You can give to any NGO you trust or choose from a list of 200-odd NGOs listed with us,” says Krishnan.

The movement is poised to be an annual event and the ongoing campaign aims to bring together at least 20 million Indians to discover the joy of giving. The JGW will also coincide with the new volunteering move in the US with the Serve America Act, which will come into effect on October 1.

Some ways by which Hyderabad plans to ‘give’

* Free breast cancer diagnosis for the poor by Usha Laxmi Breast Cancer Foundation.

* Free health checkup camps for the elderly and subsidised treatments during the week at KIMS.

* Indian School of Business to conduct ‘Shadow a CEO auctions’.

* Animal welfare awareness initiative by Blue Cross.

* Girl Child Education initiatives by Naandi Foundation.

* Svechha Foundation to conduct ‘Trek2Help’, a social tourism package of four days to ‘light’ homes in villages using solar lamps.

* Celebrity Heritage Walk by AP Tourism to raise funds for various NGOs.

* Corporate Monuments Auctions by AP Tourism to get corporates to bid and adopt a monument for its upkeep.

* DESIRE Society to conduct a musical night on October 3.

* Nearly 3000 schools signed up for Design 4 Giving Contest.

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