In this pandemic-fueled state of food insecurity, the members of Children’s Hope India 3 (CH3) kicked off the holiday season with a recent food drive that yielded 200 bags of food and 100 $50 Target gift cards for a number of impoverished families. CH3 teamed up with the Kiwanis Club (via Hicksville High School’s Key Club) and the Stony Brook University student led-group ASBO (Alternative Spring Break Organization) to distribute these donations.
The nine-member CH3, consisting of upper classmen from Hicksville, Great Neck, Syosset, Jericho and General Douglas MacArthur High School, is led by a pair of Hicksville juniors—team leaders Rohann Manjrekar and Jessi Kohli. CH3 is the third chapter of the larger Children’s Hope India nonprofit and was founded by Manjrekar’s sister and a group of Hicksville High School students back in 2015. For the younger Manjrekar, Kohli and their peers, continuing the organization’s mission to help the less fortunate was never in question.
“While the two other chapters are in New York City and partially New York/New Jersey, our CH3 chapter is the chapter in which the high school students are just separate and doing their own thing in the community,” Kohli explained. “The Holiday Food Drive is really one of many things we do with CH3. Currently, we’re working at doing a toy drive for foster kids. We’ve done similar things in the past. We’re looking at how we’re going to do that in the face of COVID-19 and everything as far as restrictions go. Our main mission every year, along with our Holiday Food Drive, is to actually send underprivileged kids living in shelters to summer camp every year. That was the initial start of CH3 with Rohann’s sister. I believe they initially sent six kids back when it was started and it grew to about 25 kids [by summer 2019]. This year we weren’t able to send any kids to summer camp because summer camp wasn’t a thing.”
Manjrekar added, “It’s really nice to see the smiles on the family’s faces once we do all these things for them. Some kids and many people take their situations for granted.”
Both Hicksville natives, Kohli and Manjrekar give significant credit to the community’s diversity for raising their exposure to varying socio-economic levels.
“I really felt that being among a diverse group of kids and being exposed to so many different cultures is honestly something so amazing,” Kohli said. “Hicksville is not only ethnically diverse, but after Rohann and I have been in CH3, we also realized that it’s also economically diverse. Thankfully, Rohann and I can say we had it a little easier growing up. But once we started working with this charity, we saw that not every kid has had it the same way. Once you get do these different drives and see what a $50 bag of food can do. The bag might not even be worth $50, but when you see the smile on the face of the family you give it too, you see they can still have that same tradition that everybody else does.”
“I 100 percent agree with Jessi,” Manjrekar said. “When you realize that not a lot of people don’t have or had growing up, you see how lucky you are to have what you have.”
Visit www.childrenshopeindia.org to find out more about Children’s Hope 3.