Diwali, a festival of lights and major holiday celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, is Nov. 4. Leading up to the holiday, many people do community service activities. One of those is the Sewa Diwali Food Drive, a national service effort running from the beginning of October through Nov. 21 that local residents are taking part in — and they’re inviting the wider Wilton community to help in the collection.
The word Sewa means selfless giving. “We believe in [the idea that] ‘Service to Humanity is Service to Divinity,'” explains Vikram Bhandari, a Wilton resident spearheading the local effort. “We look at this as a community duty for us. We as Hindus living in this community, it’s our duty to ensure that each and every one of us is taken care of and protected. That is the motivation, really.”
Last year, despite the difficulties of the COVID pandemic, the Sewa Diwali effort collected 14,200 pounds of food across Connecticut, which helped stock 13 food pantries. During this drive, the volunteers did the collections mostly within their neighborhoods. Non-perishable, canned food items were delivered to food pantries or homeless shelters in nearby towns based on their need. Among the closest organizations helped were Person-to-Person and the CT Food Bank, which assists the Wilton Food Pantry.
“Many organizations, individuals and even kids participated in their own way under trying times of COVID” said Amit Agarwal, HindiUSA Wilton Connecticut Chapter Lead.
The hope this year is to expand efforts, and increase what the community can collect.
“It’s immensely gratifying to improve collective contributions from this drive by 5 times compared to last year amidst tough COVID situation,” said Wilton resident Sarvesh Damle, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Connecticut Chapter Lead.
Several Wilton residents have offered their homes as drop-off locations, and community members are asked to consider contributing unexpired, vegetarian, non-perishable food donations — suggestions include items like pasta, canned vegetables and cereal. Wilton drop-off locations are:
- 33 Powder Horn Hill Rd.
- 30 Rivergate Dr.
- 24 Salem Rd.
- 4 Glen Hill Ln.
Local organizers are also collaborating with the Wilton High School Key Club volunteers and other local organizations. For more information or to speak with organizers about getting more involved, contact Vikram Bhandari at 203.434.7463.