Thank You(th) : With upcoming holidays such as Thanksgiving, students give back to community through volunteering


Harini Ravichandran

Sophomore Rishma Chauhan talks to visitors at the temple. She discussed recent and future volunteering events.

Richa Louis

While many people come together with their family to prepare feasts for Thanksgiving Day dinner,  watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or plan for Black Friday sales, families, like senior Karsen Williams’s, use Thanksgiving break as an opportunity to help the less those who are less fortunate in the community.

Harini Ravichandran
Sophomore Rishma Chauhan passes out Balagokulum shirts to the adult supervisors of the temple. She said the shirts help raise money.

Karsen said she and her family members devote their time during Thanksgiving break to give back to their community. Karsen is in a youth group at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and said her youth group volunteers in soup kitchens, plays music at retirement homes and contributes to the community especially during the holidays.

“We do stress the importance of family and being together in gratitude, it is also important to us to give to those who are in need,” Karsen said.

According to the Huffington Post, projects saw a 42 percent increase national volunteering over the holidays in 2016, compared to sign-ups for the whole year based on data compiled by HandsOn Connect, a group that helps nonprofit organizations manage their volunteer base.

Bishop J. D. Williams, who currently serves at the Carmel Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is Karsen’s father, said holidays typically involve volunteers.

“School breaks and weekends are some of the best times to serve,” Bishop Williams said via email. “For example, some of our youth will take advantage of a school break to volunteer at the food storehouse.”

While Karsen said she does believe students should utilize breaks, she also understands that some people need to put their own priorities first.

“I think it depends on the situation of yourself or your family, but I most definitely believe if you do have the opportunity like an open weekend then look for opportunities wherever you are because there will never be a place that will not have a volunteering opportunity,” Karsen said.

According to Karsen, in order to volunteer, you must set aside your selfish reasons and put others’ needs before your own.

“I have to admit this; I did not really like volunteering at the beginning when I was 12, because when I was younger I felt like it was so much work just having to put forth the effort into helping others,” Karsen said. “But now I understand the reason why we serve others and it’s because we have been so blessed to have a lot of things that others do not. They have been through so much more, and having that perception and having that understanding that people do need help and that we can give our time and effort if we are willing to do so to help them that will ultimately bring us more happiness.”

Bishop Williams said, “When we are in the service of others, we are in the service of God, and there is a powerful effect on the lives of those who turn away from their own desires to help fulfill the needs of others. Both the giver and the receiver are benefited. For anyone who is feeling down or discouraged, then engaging in the service of others is one way to greater happiness.”

Sophomore Rishma Chauhan currently volunteers at the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana and said that through volunteering she has also learned some valuable lessons.

Harini Ravichandran
Chetnana members Sophomore Rishma Chauhan and Junior Shreya Bothra present to Balagokulum students. They reviewed their experiences volunteering at the Gleaner’s Food Bank as a group bonding event.

“(Volunteering) has gotten me involved in a lot of other communities and interested in a lot of other things like the interfaith community. You get a lot of new experiences and meet a lot of new people and I think that’s beneficial,” Chauhan said.

Karsen agreed and also said once you volunteer, you can truly understand the importance of giving back to your community.

She said, “Sharing my cello music and my talents to retirement homes and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, helping in soup kitchens and putting back food on shelves, even going to what we call the ‘bishop storehouse’ which is where we have a lot of food storage, just having all those experiences has really helped me understand why people do enjoy service. (They enjoy service because) it brings them happiness and they know they’re doing it for a good reason not only that but also for the ultimate reward that the people who we are serving will also be blessed and they are also very happy.”