This is your chance to make an underprivileged child happy this festive season by 'gifting smiles'

Agua, a Chennai-based organisation provides you with the opportunity to gift underprivileged kids in Chennai anything from toys to books and truly embrace the spirit of giving on December 28
Children receiving gifts from the Agua team during the Gifting Smiles drive held last year (Pic: Agua)
Children receiving gifts from the Agua team during the Gifting Smiles drive held last year (Pic: Agua)

The Joy of Giving Week or Dann Utsav, which involves engaging people through 'acts of giving' — money, time, resources and skill, and has slowly become a part of the Indian ethos, so to speak. Modelled on similar principles, Agua, a 'for the women, by the women' organisation that organises 'motivational' leadership conferences and self-love exercises, has been conducting the Gifting Smiles drive for the last four years.

What exactly does this involve? "We collect things like toys, books, sweets, colour boxes and shoes, which are preferably new, from people who would like to contribute from across the city. After this, we gift-wrap the items and distribute them among the less-fortunate children across the city,” says Subha Pandiyan a former corporate professional, who founded Agua in 2012, adding, “In the beginning, the women in our group would come together and carry out this activity, but now we are engaging volunteers from outside too. Today, we encourage participation from any Good Samaritan who wishes to volunteer, donate or even contribute funds.” The drive will be conducted on December 28, 2019 — the group will cover areas of ECR and OMR this time.  

Subha points out that in the beginning, the group faced a lot of challenges with respect to segregating the toys and gift items on the basis of age and gender, then colour coding them afterwards, but they got the 'hang of it' later and enjoyed putting in extra efforts for this noble cause. “Last year, we impacted around 2,500 kids. This year, we plan to impact 4,000 kids. We want to put a smile on each and every child's face — this is our only aim. When the whole city is celebrating and very happy, why should the underprivileged ones be left behind?” she asks.

The modus operandi of distributing gifts is something like this — the Agua team goes around areas like construction sites where people from all parts of India come to work and cannot afford to buy toys for their kids, interior roads where street children live, Tsunami colonies and even orphanages. Although they prefer that people donate new items, they also find takers for old treasures. “This year, class 10 students from Sishya School have sent us some toys that were collected as part of one of their drives and another organisation in Velachery has also sent me a carton full of toys. People who are part of other similar causes are also pitching in and contributing as much as they can. We also got things like cycles and notebooks, and other leftover toys that will be distributed in a housing board colony in Royapettah,” she adds.

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