A Helping Hand

By Mani Manoharan, Upper St. Clair, PA

email: mani_tnf@yahoo.com

Sri Venkateswara Temple, along with several other temples in the United States, dedicated the weekend of October 2nd for honoring Gandhi Jayanthi as “Hindu Seva Divas” by offering service for the local communities. This was an initiative of Hindu Mandir Executives Conference. In its first ever service activity organized with coordinators from several temples across USA, twenty temples participated this year and is expected to improve in the coming years.

On October 2nd and 3rd, volunteers from SV Temple and Hindu-Jain Temple had the privilege to volunteer at the “Jubilee Soup Kitchen” located on Wyandotte Street, off Fifth Avenue, near downtown Pittsburgh. Scrumptious vegetarian food prepared by the volunteers and temple cooks were served for 120 people each day.

The guests were primarily older men, and a few women, and one young mother with two children. All of them were very appreciative for the food and came back for seconds.  Some even took food out for a later meal.

The kitchen operates under a very tight budget. Almost everyone who works there is a volunteer, and the kitchen is completely supported by private donations.

The kitchen welcomes those whose lives are challenged by poverty, illness, joblessness, or homelessness.  The kitchen serves hot noon meals 365 days a year.

Sri Venkateswara Temple is planning to increase this service to once in three months or more. Seva Divas provided an opportunity for many physicians to volunteer at a community health fair in Monroeville Municipality, educate senior citizens in Concordia Center in Cabot, PA on October 7.

SV Temple also donated money to Greater Pittsburgh Community food to purchase 1500 food cans for distribution to those in need. Youth from Hindu Jain Temple helped clean up the Illini Drive surroundings.

The model of Hindu temples serving the community on a coordinated basis on the same across USA is new and Pittsburgh had the unique opportunity to lead such an effort. It provided an opportunity to understand the needs of the community so that Hindus in US can contribute to the benefit of the main stream society.

For more information on the Soup Kitchen, please visit www.jubileesoupkitchen.org.     ♦

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