Local family raises money for struggling families

The Aaharam team gathers donations to help purchase supplies for families in need

What started as a small gesture to help families struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became a large fundraiser, reaching communities as far as New Jersey and the Bay area.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a non-profit organization, recently shifted their focus of mentoring at-risk youth to providing assistance to families that are struggling financially at the moment. Saritha Ivaturi, an Oak Park community member, began compiling a list of families that were unable to purchase groceries and other basic necessities. 

“During these times, tons of these families are struggling financially to put food on the table, some are nearly homeless, some are legitimately homeless, and so the focus shifted as a result of [COVID-19] to providing necessities for those families. My mom … began to call and compile lists of groceries, Lysol/tissue paper/cleaning stuff, etc. for them,” daughter of Saritha Ivaturi and senior Chaitanya Ivaturi said. 

In order to receive donations to be able to purchase these supplies, the Aaharam team created a GoFundMe page. Over a thousand dollars has been raised so far and recently, the team extended their goal of $2 thousand to $7 thousand dollars.

In terms of how many groceries each family receives, Chaitanya says it depends on each family’s individual situation.

“In terms of actual numbers, I’d say the first time around it’s about $100-$150 per family per week for groceries,” Chaitanya Ivaturi said. “We’ve talked to families with five kids, grandparents and two parents and nobody is working because of [COVID-19] so they can barely put food on the table every night and everyone’s so hungry and so worried about if they’re going to survive … times are tough for everyone, but if you’re already struggling financially then this is a whole new beast. I hope we help people get food on the table and feel a little safer right now.”

Chaitanya Ivaturi said her family plans to continue providing support for families post-COVID-19 and expresses her gratitude towards the Oak Park community.

“One thing I’d love to emphasize was this started with the OP community … When my mom first got a list of families, she reached out … and so many people were willing to help buy groceries and one lady even cooked food (wearing mask and gloves of course) for families because she herself didn’t have funds to donate. I thought that was really awesome and nice to see,” Chaitanya Ivaturi said. “That kind of empathy and sense of community service is really necessary in these times.”