Updated: Aug 21
One day, Sridevi, the Chicago branch director of VT Seva, was at the local farmers market in Buffalo Grove. She saw two high school kids at a booth. She headed over there and saw that they were fundraising. They had chocolates out and were selling it for as much as people would pay for them. Needless to say, that’s when Sridevi had the brilliant idea to sign up VT Seva for a booth at the farmers market. She researched and emailed people until she finally got us a slot: Sunday, June 25 from 7:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
Now, all we needed were volunteers to man the booth and things to sell. Hence, Sruthi created a signup to bake, to help out at the booth, or do both. There were many whom had signed up for volunteering at the booth. We split the times up into slots, fearing it would be too tiring for the youths to handle. Sudheeshna, Veda, Sahithi, and Kiva stayed the whole time.
Sruthi made a huge batch of cookie dough the day before this event and made enough dough for 100 cookies. On the day of event we found out home made goods weren’t allowed because of some precautions. Luckily, we brought plants, water bottles in iceboxes, store bought cookies, and brownie brittle to be received as a thank you gift for donating. Reshma also joined us.
We experimented with hooks that could lead people to our booth. We started with “would you like to help our community?”. Then went on to “would you like to help local food pantries?”. Then, finalized our hook: “would you like to know how we help our community?”
“Business was slow at first as many people didn’t want to carry around plants but they came back and purchased plants.” Some of our families even came out to support us.
Reshma described how as the day progressed, “there were times when people we approached simply didn’t want to listen to what we had to say. At these moments, we would just laugh it off and move on. When people were interested, we all worked together to effectively explain the depth of our cause”
Youth volunteers shared the QR code for VT Seva home page for people to learn more about VT Seva and donate. Sudheeshna developed her persuasive catch phrase, “A dollar goes a long way!”, which convinced many to donate.
A reporter from Capital Gazette approached the youth volunteers and he was so inspired by VT Seva that he decided he would write an article about VT Seva and youth volunteers which would be published in the following weeks. All the youth volunteers were so grateful for the opportunity.
Kiva reflected on the day, she felt: “At the beginning I felt really shy but as the day went on I felt really confident going up to people and saying my lines.”
Overall, all youth volunteers learned how to communicate with people better. When asked what Reshma learnt, she told: “I learned that sometimes it takes patience and time before you can start achieving your purpose." In terms of this event, volunteers had to continue to approach people even though most of them didn’t want to hear what we had to say.
"However, this didn’t stop us and we continued to talk to more people, and eventually we created a lot of awareness about VT Seva, created enthusiasm about the activities we are doing, got some donations, and added new volunteers, which was such a great result”
Blog Written By: Sruthi Ranga