Despite only getting two hours of sleep, LSA junior Suman Chhabra was energized for work on Saturday.

“I’m tired, but it’s good,” she said, as she cheered up other students at Saturday’s Gandhi Day of Service.

It is the third year that Chhabra, has participated in the annual community service event, which was founded by the Indian American Student Association eight years ago to help students embrace the values of Mahatma Gandhi.

Chhabra said she was thrilled when she learned on Saturday morning that she would volunteer at Gleaners, a food bank located in Detroit. Although the work was exhausting and mainly involved stuffing boxes with food to be sent to Hurricane Katrina victims, Chhabra said even doing the small things matter.

“I’ve learned the importance of being selfless. Gandhi’s day has taught me that any active service strengthens the community,” she said.

About a 150 students gathered for the start of the event in room 1800 of the Chemistry Building by singing Indian and American national anthems. The students then departed and went their separate ways to the community service sites they had chosen to volunteer at.

Rohit Setty, the keynote speaker at the event and a Rackham student, aimed to inspire the volunteers, telling the students that Gandhi’s vision was not based on individuals receiving acknowledgement for their good deeds, but rather to an individual’s selfless contribution to the society. He spoke on the values that Gandhi had – peace, compassion, service and equality – and that these values are best embraced through building a community.

Since the Day of Service started at Michigan a few years ago, the colleges in 35 states have adopted the day and the South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow, an organization that organizes a national Gandhi Day of Service every year.

Anjali Modi, an LSA sophomore and the service co-chair of IASA, said that the goal of Gandhi Day of Service is to provide an opportunity to volunteer for students who seldom have time for community service and would like to contribute.

“A lot of students want to get involved in the community, but it’s easier for them to come out for just one day. And although one day may seem short, they really get to help a lot,” Modi said.

The day of service is an eye-opening experience for many students who come from upper- or middle-class families, Modi added, because many of these students never realized that a day of volunteering could impact the community significantly.

Lizzie Neilson, an LSA senior and a service day volunteer at Gleaners, said she truly appreciated the Gandhi Day of Service for providing an opportunity to help hurricane victims.

She added that despite living in the United States., many people who wanted to help were unable to travel to New Orleans.

“Being at Gleaners meant a lot to me,” she said.

Fred Anthony, the volunteer coordinator at Gleaners said that the service day had made a difference and that he was willing to have the students come back next year.

“I’ll always welcome them to come back. The nice thing about college students is that they catch up easily with what we do here. And they also have an idea of why they are here. Gandhi’s day proved to be a good example,” Anthony said.

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