A GIVEr of the Community
By: Anwitha Kollipara and Alex Yung
Hasita Nalluri, founder and president of TJ GIVE
Appreciation cards written and given out to COVID-19 workers by TJ GIVE
Amidst the current pandemic, the community spirit can sometimes get lost. As William Shakespeare once said, “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” One student has provided that beam of light against the gloomy shadow of current events. That student is Hasita Nalluri, who founded TJ GIVE, a club that carries out service projects for the wellbeing of the community.
Nalluri’s idea for a community service club did not blossom immediately. Her passion for giving back to the community started with her making donations as a child, and it slowly evolved into what it is today.
“I have always done things in community service. Since elementary school, I have done toy drives or donated things to Purple Heart [Foundation],” she says.
Nalluri’s inspiration for this club comes from a similar club she had been a part of in the past.
“At my middle school, I was the president of a social service club called LEO club… And we as a club got to decide what social issues and social service projects we wanted to do. When I came to TJ, I noticed that there was not a social service club that had that same structure, which is what inspired me to create TJ GIVE.”
A distinctive aspect of TJ GIVE is that they allow club members to choose what projects they want to work on through social discussions.
She mentions, “We give everyone at TJ and every member of our club a voice, and a platform to speak on social issues that they care about
…we center our social service projects around what the club members want, and we do not confine ourselves to one social cause.”
This uniqueness contributes to its popularity. Within 3 months of the group’s founding, it has grown to have over 120 members even though the pandemic hindered their growth. Regardless, the club was
able to overcome all obstacles - the pandemic and a small number of meetings - and carry out a project to help COVID-19 workers.
Nalluri says, “We asked all of our members to virtually send some cards or tokens of gratitude to frontline health care workers. We had over 25 responses and we compiled all of those tokens of gratitude into a book. We sent that to almost 40 hospitals in the DMV area as well as hospitals in New York.”
Although the club started this year and was only able to carry out a few projects due to COVID-19, they have already planned more projects for the future. One such idea is to host a volunteer fair at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
“We want to have a volunteer fair where we invite nonprofits and service organizations from around the area to speak about the missions of their organizations. This is so club members can learn more about them,” says Nalluri.
Nalluri has seen firsthand how social work can make an impact on the community. For instance, the hospitals she supported returned letters of gratitude, saying that the assistance had helped them through the day. Whether it is simply helping clean trash in the community or sending letters to frontline workers, everyone can contribute to brightening someone’s day.