• Akila Venkatesh

#2: Have a birthday food-drive!

A few years ago, when my birthday was approaching and my desire to help others was increasing, I had the idea of holding a food drive on my birthday. The idea was that people were asked to bring some canned food items instead of a gift. I wanted people to feel that they were contributing something tangible for my birthday (and within reason) and I wanted to feel that I was giving back on this special day.

My birthday celebration was held at a restaurant. My friends arrived carrying colourful gift bags, handing them over to me with a hug, a smile and a ‘happy birthday’. The ‘gift giving’ was tangible and meaningful–exactly what I had hoped for.

Before the celebration, I registered my birthday food drive on the Daily Bread Food Bank’s website. I set a goal of 75 pounds of food and sent out an e-mail to my friends before my birthday, informing them of this goal and including a list of most needed items by the food bank (i.e., baby food and formula, peanut butter, beans, rice etc…). I received many responses to this e-mail–responses mostly filled with smiley faces and exclamation marks. People were happy and excited with the idea. 🙂

We raised well over 100 pounds of food and I felt elated. As icing on the cake, and to my complete surprise, I received a thank-you letter in the mail from the food bank shortly after my birthday celebration.

I held another birthday food drive the following year and will definitely continue to combine acts of kindness and social responsibility with future birthday celebrations–what better gift than to feel like I’m making a meaningful difference.

One caveat–packing up over 100 pounds of food in the trunk of my car and dropping off all those bags to the food bank did take some effort, but thanks to my helpful and wonderful fiance, we got the job done pretty quickly.

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© 2020 by Akila Venkatesh

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