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Love and Light

Region 1 - YAP: Christmas Hampers for Homeless

December is a month synonymous with the festive season, Christmas and importantly the gift of giving. For giving, sharing, and spreading the love were the main themes of the evening at the final Region 1 YAP (Young Adult Programme) session of the year.

#STL – Spread The Love

The evening began with the launch of a new initiative to “spread the love” that we each have within us, through random acts of kindness. The concept of random acts of kindness is not new; however how many of us actually practice this? Often we can get carried away by looking for larger service opportunities, without seeing the numerous opportunities that exist in our everyday lives. The beauty of initiatives like this is that we can work on it at an individual level as well as at a collective level. It requires each of us to live in the moment and see what’s really going in front of us, be courageous enough to follow our heart, and be humble in the knowing that we are serving a reflection of ourselves. Each month, youth from a different centre will take on the initiative of leading ‘#stl’ with the work being documented to simply inspire and show others how a little act can make a lot of difference.

Christmas Hampers & Children’s toy collection

Each year, Region 1 youth lead on making hampers to give to the homeless people in London through a charity called ‘The Passage’. Items in the hampers include scarves, gloves, hats, sleeping bags, raincoats and socks. In addition to this, the Region donated toys to the Children’s Hospital Royal Marsden and Great Ormond Street. The toys were targeted for younger children and included games, Lego, soft toys, and figurines. Approximately 20 people were there helping on the night splitting into two teams to pack the hampers and wrap the presents. As they say, many hands make light work, and we managed to finish in approximately 90 minutes. A total of 133 hampers were put together along with 90 toys wrapped on that day. However in total Region 1 with the help of all the centres and all the SSE children managed to collect around 250 presents! Thank you kindly to everyone who contributed and helped out on the day. The youth have used this service opportunity to integrate with everyone in the region from the children to the adults; integrating with the SSE and Service wings.

In one of the inspirational videos we watched during the #STL launch, an Indian man who quit his job to feed and look after the homeless people in his own town said something that struck a chord with me. It was about giving nutrition for the body (food/water) and nutrition for the mind (LOVE!). This struck a chord with me because I know from experience that both are equally important. It can be easy to detach ourselves from the people we give to, to simply ‘throw money at it’ without ever meeting the recipient. In a different context, our local youth group in New Zealand does monthly singing at a local hospital – initially we simply showed up, sang our songs and went home without really getting to know the patients. Feeling that this wasn’t enough, this changed to spending more time with the patients, and really opened our eyes to what they were going through. Sometimes all a person wants is a person to talk to, or someone to listen to them and just know that another person out there cares about them. The value of a heart to heart connection cannot be underestimated. Next year promises to bring an abundance of opportunities to help serve and love the society we live in, and acknowledge the divinity within us all. As Swami as so often said, “Service to Man, is Service to God”.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and with Love,

Branavan Ravichelvan