CARMEL — This month’s recipient of the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good is making a difference for some of our newest and youngest Hoosier friends through the Grassroot Projects.
With toys in hand, Priya Gangwani prepares the much-needed goodies and supplies for refugee children who now live in the Hoosier state.
"It is fun to see them open and look at all of the goodies they get," she said.
It’s a gift from the heart through the Grassroot Projects, a nonprofit organization she co-founded five years ago.
For Gangwani, it’s a personal mission.
“We understand that if you’re coming into a new country with not knowing the system and not knowing the language and not having any transportation, especially with children, how hard it is," Gangwani said.
Gangwani moved to the U.S. from India as a first-generation immigrant woman and international student. Immediately, she noticed the barriers families and children face.
So, Gangwani, with the help of community partners and volunteers, provides products and services for immigrant children.
Families apply to the program through a low-barrier, bilingual application, then they communicate with Grassroot Projects through text to talk about the exact needs the family requires.
Refugee children receive specific items, ranging from baby formula and diapers to school supplies and clothes.
“I didn’t realize it’s going to grow this big. We were like, 'We will help a few families' — but as we started, it was just amazing to see the need that exists,” said Gangwani.
That need is best displayed through the organization’s data from 2021.
Gawain and her team provided diapers to 219 Indiana households and clothing to 251 Hoosier families. Then demand took off during the pandemic, so Grassroot Projects delivered 435 COVID-19 hygiene kits, which included tests.
“We went from a few packages to assisting thousands of children,” said board member and volunteer Lisa Freeman.
The work never stops.
“I don’t think Priya sleeps,” said Freeman.
Volunteers make Grassroot Project’s mission come to fruition.
“I know she feels so strongly about the families that we support and assist," Freeman said.
Gangwani said she feels “very honored and very gratified that I have that support to make this happen.”
She said the reactions from the recipients make it worth it.
“The mothers are just so thankful; they are just happy that they’re getting something that they really need,” said Gangwani.
Nowadays, they drop off the needed supplies at the recipient’s door, which made for the perfect setting for WRTV to surprise Gangwani with our gift, of the Jefferson Award for Multiplying Good.
Gangwani said, “Thank you so much, this means so much to us as an organization and to me personally, thank you for the recognition.”
It’s our gift, to recognize the people who make the Hoosier state a more loving and supportive place.
Right now, Grassroot Projects has two programs. One is the care packages delivery and the other is a sponsorship for refugee children to help them participate in after-school programs like tumbling or swimming classes.
For more information on the work Gangwani and this organization do, click here.