Meals to Masks
Community organizations step up to the plate in these trying times.
As coronavirus pandemic rocks the country, brave hearts from organizations around Atlanta go about donating food, masks, and other essentials to people in need. In a heartening display of solidarity, the community members have joined volunteering efforts in droves to serve in these difficult times.
The Global Mall in Norcross, along with Walia Hospitality Group, teamed up to provide 1000 free meals per day for nine days to help families in need, frontline workers and shelters. Starting mid-April, 9000 free meals were distributed to the greater Atlanta community over three weeks.
Ashiana Restaurant readying up to serve meals during the food donation drive. (Left)
The owner of Global Mall, Shiv Aggarwal, whose thought sparked the drive, says, “Global Mall has always taken pride in giving back to the community and during these unprecedented times we needed to do something and food was the best way to help. We are fortunate to have tenants like Ricky [Walia] who stepped up to partner in this cause.”
Ricky Walia, owner of Walia Hospitality Group with restaurants Ashiana, Cafe Bombay, and Masti who are preparing hot meals for the drive each day, says “It’s impacted us all over the board. We are blessed that we are able to set up and help people that are in need right now.”
The drive saw an overwhelming response on the first day as hundreds of cars lined up, even backing up traffic on Jimmy Carter Boulevard. With ramped up numbers, the organizers launched a Facebook Fundraiser and thanks to some 200 donors, $20,000 was raised within 24 hours. “It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish when we band together as a community,” Vandana Aggarwal, one of the organizers, said.
1000 meals are being served three times a week during the donation drive. (Right)
In a gesture of solidarity in the pandemic times, many community members from Patel Plaza in Decatur including Kalpesh Patel from Patel Brothers, Jigar Patel from Raju Omelet Centre & Blueberrys North Indian Restaurant & Bar, and Sonny Bhayani from Honest Indian Restaurant got behind Jay Raval to support his initiative to donate masks, water, and free meals. Amit Shah from Millennium Investment as well as Jayanti Patel and Vishal Patel from Ambaji Real Estate also joined to support the initiative. Jay Raval, who is popular among his TikTok fans, was helped by his father, Jonty Raval, to start his initiative with homemade masks. He made over 1800 masks and delivered to Cobb County Sheriff & Police Department, Berkmar High School, and to the elderly in their mail boxes. Now free meals, water, and masks are being provided every afternoon at Patel Plaza. These meals are also served to Emory Hospital, Fire department, and Sanitation department in Decatur.
Patel Plaza food donation drive serving Cobb County Police Department.
Indian Friends of Atlanta
In the past few weeks, Indian Friends of Atlanta (IFA) has been working to serve food in hospitals and to the homeless, along with distributing masks.
Jay Rawal offering food, water and masks as cars pull up during the food donation drive. (Left)
In the past couple of weeks, they have distributed more than 3000 meals. Cake World, Bawarchi Biryani, Kakatiya Indian Kitchen, Patel Brothers, Thesam Enterprises, and Tours Limited have pitched in to sponsor over a 1000 meals served to first responders including healthcare workers, police and fire departments. Another 1000 meals have been served to the homeless in and around the city. IFA is now stepping up to procure 100,000 KN95 Masks and Gloves, and another 10,000 N95 Masks for first responders after the organization was able to raise $10,000 for this purpose.
Honest Restaurant preparing meals for the Patel Plaza Food Drive. (Right)
Sewa International’s Atlanta Chapter has been ceaselessly working with local service organizations to bring relief during the time of the pandemic. A growing team of over 70 members from Sewa Atlanta has been working to make and distribute DIY face masks to Atlanta area hospitals and nursing homes. Over 700 masks have been donated to local hospitals including Northside Hospitals, Piedmont Healthcare Hospitals, several private practices, and first responders. Over
Indian Friends of Atlanta serving meals at Emory Johnscreek Hospital.
Sewa International, Atlanta Chapter delivers meals for healthcare workers at Northside Hospital.
Sewa Atlanta has been donating Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) nationwide including hospitals in New York City. Locally, they have donated PPE to Atlanta area fire departments, sheriff’s offices in Cumming, first responders, and health care staff in Northside Hospitals. As Sewa International continues to raise funds, over 30,000 N95 masks, 2,500 gloves, and 2,000 sanitizer bottles have been donated so far. Blood drives have also been set up in in the Atlanta area to supply local metro Atlanta hospitals collaboration with LifeSouth, a primary provider for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Sewa International volunteers getting together to prepare DIY masks for distribution. (Left)
As meals are obtained from many other food drives, and donated to local food banks and non-profits that Sewa Atlanta is collaborating with, a team of over 80 Sewa Atlanta volunteers have cooked over 700 meals for local hospital staff. Sewa Atlanta has further collaborated with Food4Life to distribute meals to the homeless in Atlanta. Non-perishable food drives in collaboration with the Marcus E. & Sharon B. Gunter (MSG) Foundation are being conducted in more than 20 neighborhoods in the Atlanta area. Food has further been donated to more than 300 students who in normal circumstances would depend on meals served at school. 150 DIY masks have also been sent to the Georgia War Veterans Home in Augusta in joint efforts with the Medical College of Georgia DIY mask team. An additional 500 masks have been distributed via a helpline (401-484-SEWA or 401-484-7392) for COVID-19. With over 40 volunteers, some health care workers and nurse practitioners are a part of this helpline as well. The helpline has helped handle over 40 COVID-19 cases. With the help of a delivery team called Boots on the Ground, Sewa Helpline can also be reached for delivery of important items.
Youth for Sewa, Sewa International’s volunteer arm for youth, has students from Lambert, Northview, and Wheeler high schools as well as Georgia Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve University, and Georgia State University creating flyers and PSA videos for protection against COVID-19, website updates for DIY mask drop-off locations nationwide, and sharing ideas for creating non-stitch masks. Youth for Sewa is also building collaborations with other local youth organizations working on DIY mask initiatives and PPE fundraisers. Together, they have collected over $6,500 till date. A volunteer for Youth for Sewa has designed a ventilator that is currently under review.
Homeless community gets served meals by Food4Lives volunteers around Ponce De Leon. (Right)
Food4Lives has taken on the task of distributing over 150 meals to Atlanta’s underprivileged and homeless every day for last three weeks. Together with students from UGA, and in partnership with Sewa International, Satya Sai Organization, Godavari Kitchen, Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangam, Sai Center, Govinda’s Kitchen, and The Third Eye Dancers they have served almost 3000 meals in April. Starting with serving the homeless, they have taken on serving front line health care workers as well. A volunteer team tasked with making masks has distributed over 150 of them to homeless community, non-essential workers, and US Navy.
Students volunteering for Food4Lives distributing food outside Gateway Center in Atlanta.
BAPS Charities serving care packages to senior citizens in Greater Atlanta area.
Volunteers from BAPS in collaboration with BAPS Shayona, the temple’s café, delivered over 1,000 care packages to families, many with senior citizens, across the greater Atlanta area. Additionally, over 900 pounds of canned food was donated to the Gwinnett County School system to help provide necessary daily nutrition to many students in the surrounding area who are dependent on school meals. The canned food donation was collected over the past month to support students as they adjust to distance-learning and coping with the pandemic.
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