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Youth Honor Gandhi

November 2004
Youth Honor Gandhi

6th Annual National Gandhi Day of Service (NGDOS)

On October 2, 2004, over 100 youth gathered to perform community service activities in the Atlanta area for the National Gandhi Day of Service (NGDOS). Projects included renovating historic homes, cleaning neighborhood yards, and registering voters at Piedmont Park, Underground Atlanta, and Dekalb Industrial Blvd. The volunteers came from various organizations and university groups around metro-Atlanta were united in their common values of community involvement and service, regardless of ethnicity, racial, or religious background.

NGDOS is an annual event sponsored by the South Asian American Leaders for Tomorrow (SAALT) to inspire and empower people around the world to participate in community service. "We could not be happier about this year's effort. We enlisted more than 10,000 volunteer's nationwide, involving 200 organizations to do more than 50,000 hours of community service," informed Ankur Agarwal, National Co-Chair of NGDOS.

The event in Atlanta began at 9:30am in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center with a tribute to Gandhi lead by the members of the Gandhi Foundation USA. Executive Director of NGDOS, Giriraj Rao stated that the volunteers "exemplify in a very practical and meaningful way how the message of non-violence and selfless service can help the society."

Guest speaker, Representative Karla Drenner addressed the volunteers saying that "by serving the community, we are serving more than those we can see. We are creating a physical environment that is cleaner, safer, and more harmonious. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, whose life and teachings we honor today, we must be the change we want to see."

Volunteers then gathered into 5 groups for the various community service sites and devoted their time for the next few hours. "The neighborhood members were grateful for our help, and it felt great to be able to paint an entire house in so less a time, said the Emory Team leader, Priya Patel.

Atlanta NGODS Coordinator, Dhruti Contractor reflected on the day as "one that made a lasting difference by uniting groups from all races and backgrounds under the common goal of service."

"It was wonderful being part of something bigger," said Beth Myers referring to the nationwide event.

Other Gandhi Day events in Georgia included activities in Augusta, GA, and by the Indian Cultural Exchange at the University of Georgia (which will be hosting their Gandhi Day on October 17, 2004 with another group of almost 100 volunteers).

SAALT is a national non-profit organization dedicated to building leadership and civic engagement from within the South Asian American community.

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