Pongal-Republic Day 2014

Event Summary Report

Bighelp For Education Celebrates Its 11th Annual 'Pongal-Republic Day'

Bighelp for Education's Boston Chapter held its 11th annual "Pongal-Republic Day Celebrations 2014" on Jan 11 at Canton High School in Canton, Mass. This fund-raising event held from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. was attended by about 1,500 people and helped raise nearly $20K for the poorest of the poor children who aspire for a better life through education. Attendees were greeted warmly at the front desk as soon they came in and once the registration formalities were completed, they got busy checking out the shopping and snack stalls or checking their children in for the contests. Spelling Bee, Math Bee and coloring competitions were held for kids, while some adults participated in Rangoli competition during the day. Nearly 450 children took part in the competitions, some of which were really closely contested until the end necessitating numerous tie-breaker rounds. Final round of the senior level Spelling Bee was held on stage for the first time this year and was conducted by Mrs. Lakshmi Jayaraman who led the Spelling Bee contest. Art contest was held a few weeks prior to the event on Dec 21, 2013 at Burlington library and Mansfield library by Mr. Raja Chilakamarri.

As the competitions which started in the morning began to wind down in the afternoon, focus shifted to the cultural performances in which about 300 energetic performers took part. This colorful part of the event started off with a welcome address by Executive Vice President, Mr. Amar Jayam, and a recitation of ‘Vande Mataram’ and the US National Anthem by YouthHelp members. Celebrations featured children from pre-school age to adults showcasing their talents in many stage performances. Folk and film dances with colorful costumes and fast beats had the audience clapping along. Vocal and instrumental performances quieted the audience as the performers let their lilting melodies fill the room. Traditional classical dances held the people captivated with graceful movements and vivid expressions from the dancers. Patriotic performances left a warm resonance in the hearts of many, as all Indians felt a fierce pride for their country and its people. All performances were unique in that they either had simple, creative costumes and props or had excellent choreography highlighted by talented dancers or had tiny tots stealing the hearts of audience with their adorable gestures and expressions. Audience showed their appreciation and enjoyment with enthusiastic clapping and encouraging whooping.

During the celebrations, Bighelp Founder & President, Mr. Chand Pasha Shaik, detailed the organization's efforts and highlights for the year 2013. He thanked the donors and volunteers for their continued support and introduced the Boston Chapter of the organization – Mrs. Sandhya Bommaraju (President), Mrs. Deepthi Gora (Vice President), and Mr. Jagadeeshwara Nagalamadaka (Secretary) to the audience.

In her speech, Mrs. Bommaraju said "I am extremely humbled for the faith placed in me". She added "I will try more than my best to take forward the goals and ideals of this great organization which is striving hard to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children in India". Mrs. Bommaraju also announced the "Raising Star" and "Volunteer of the Year" awards. Recipients of the volunteer awards were Mrs. Lakshmi Rajanala, Mr. Srinivas Yelavarthy and Mr. Ragu Vaduka. The Rising Star award was given to Keerthana Dutta, Susritha Kopparapu and Smera Gora in recognition of their exceptional initiatives for raising funds for Bighelp during the year 2013.

Trophies and certificates were presented by the contest coordinators to all the winners at the conclusion of the stage performances. Emcees for the event were YouthHelp members: Udayashankar Chilakamarri, Deepti Kamma, Sana Pasha Shaik, Kiran Kottapalli, Veda Chandwani, and Deepika Pokala. All YouthHelp members were invited on the stage and thanked for the exceptional commitment and dedication shown toward the organization and its cause.

A complimentary dinner prepared by the volunteers was served after the stage performances. Attendees kicked back and caught up with friends and acquaintances while enjoying delicious food served in the dining hall. GreenHelp team collected 36 empty gallon water containers from the dining area and 172 empty water bottles from the auditorium and back stage areas for recycling at the conclusion of the event.

Organizers, adult and youth volunteers, contest and cultural program participants, and general audience all did their part to contribute to the success of the event and went home with the reassuring knowledge that it was time, effort, and money well spent for a truly noble cause.

Khushi Shah, a 5th grader, best summed it up in her poem on Bighelp as follows:

Big-Help, Big-Help
is a great help.
               It raises the funds,
               and helps everyone.
Every year we all gather here,
to see youth become doctors and engineers.
               Big-Help has many youths,
               who work together in different booths.
Lots of people volunteer
to help India’s kids make a good career.
               Make these children feel cool,
               by sending them to school.
Donate, Help and be kind,
you will gain peace of mind.
               Let’s support all kids who are poor,
               by making our hearts very pure.
Our one good deed,
will assist our Nation's kid to read.
               Big-Help, Big-Help
               is a great help.