Bake Sale With a Foreign Twist: International Service Club Fundraiser

International Service Club members, all sophomores, smile for the camera as the fundraiser begins to take off on Feb. 13, 2020. Left to right: Sarah Cao, Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova, Shivali Saxena, Srimayi Mulukutla, Aysu Turkay, Elim Chen, Aizah Kamal, and Neha Shastri. (Shivali Saxena/Sewickley Academy)

International Service Club members, all sophomores, smile for the camera as the fundraiser begins to take off on Feb. 13, 2020. Left to right: Sarah Cao, Milla Dobrovolska-Ivanova, Shivali Saxena, Srimayi Mulukutla, Aysu Turkay, Elim Chen, Aizah Kamal, and Neha Shastri. (Shivali Saxena/Sewickley Academy)

Milla Ivanova and Shivali Saxena

A scrumptious dessert table and Bollywood music, all for supporting a worthy cause – what could be better? On February 13, 2020, the Senior School’s International Service Club (ISC) hosted an Indian dessert fundraiser in support of a school in a tiny village named Hivre Zahre, located in the state of Maharashtra in India. The ISC was inspired to raise funds for this school through the fundraiser’s head coordinator, sophomore Neha Shastri, who happened to have personal ties to Hivre Zahre.

Neha Shastri’s father collects handmade cards from two of his students in Hivre Zahre. (Neha Shastri/Sewickley Academy)

“I was enrolled in the Global Studies ‘Call to Action’ course last year when I came across a website named E-vidya loka, an online teaching website that allows people to virtually teach students at certain villages in India. I sent the website to my dad and he was [interested] in doing this because he has always wanted to give back to his community, especially since he grew up in Maharashtra,” Shastri said.

Shastri’s dad has been teaching at the school for a year now. Her entire family even visited the village this past summer, forming personal bonds with the students there. One thing they realized, however, is that there aren’t enough viable resources for the kids to receive a full educational experience.

“Many [of the] children did not have access to basic school materials,” Shastri said. “I wanted to involve the Sewickley Academy community to help provide for the kids. The money we collect will be used to buy school supplies and science equipment.”

The students at the school in Hivre Zahre get ready to start class. (Neha Shastri/Sewickley Academy)

To bring culture to the fundraiser, the ISC began planning a bake sale featuring Indian sweets and desserts. Hours of work and lots of planning was required to make sure everything was ready for the big day.

“The most challenging part was getting everything approved and making sure it was organized,” sophomore Sarah Cao, the ISC president, said. “There were a ton of meetings and forms we had to fill to even have the fundraiser in the first place. We had to make posters/flyers to spread the word about it. It was a lot of communicating and designing, but in the end it was definitely worth it.”

The bake sale itself was a success. An array of tasty Indian desserts were ready to be sold: gulab jamun (fried milk balls topped with syrup), kaju katli (cashew fudge), and ladoos (sweet balls made with different types of flour). As soon as the booth was open for sale, a line of customers eagerly waited to try the treats.

“I was actually fairly pleased with the amount of people who came and bought the sweets,” said sophomore Aysu Turkay, ISC vice-president. “Especially when selling something less mainstream that everyone’s guaranteed to have heard of or want to try, the turnout was pretty good. I was also happy with the level of interest of the people walking by the stand, as many wanted to buy the sweets but couldn’t because they didn’t have money.”

Club members took turns selling the desserts, working in shifts to make sure everyone was served. The high demand meant that the table had to be restocked frequently.

ISC members distribute sweets to an eager customer. (Shivali Saxena/Sewickley Academy)

The club ended up raising $230 from both sales and donations! Shastri’s family will use the money to bring supplies for the children when they visit Hivre Zahre again.

Cao said, “I think the most rewarding part of the experience was actually having a fundraiser that succeeded really well. I was super afraid that no one was actually going to come and buy anything, but I was totally wrong. We had a lot of fun with the members of the club while planning this.”

As a result of their hard work, the ISC was able to create a positive impact for Hivre Zahre. The profits made are a reflection of all the dedication put into this fundraiser, and just like Shastri’s father said, “Education is important to give to every child.”