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Teenager Helps Feed Thousands of Homeless People 01 - Donate a Car
Do you remember what you were doing when you were 17 years old? For one girl, she is helping to feed thousands of homeless people!
Teenager Helps Feed Thousands of Homeless People 03 - Donate a Car

Anyone Can Make a Difference

Meet Shreyaa Venkat, a seventeen year old girl who runs four distinctive volunteer programs that she began herself all while going to high school.
Venkat developed a passion for helping people as a young child when her parents would bring her along on their own volunteer activities. By the time she was around nine years old, she had developed a desire to organize her own service projects. Since doing good things is always more fun with others, she enthusiastically involved friends, family and community to help as well.
Teenager Helps Feed Thousands of Homeless People 02 - Donate a Car

From Starting Small to Big Results

Realizing all the wasted food there is and yet how many people out there who are hungry, Venkat felt like it would be a simple thing to have the latter be helped by the former. That’s when she created NEST4US, a non-profit organization to help feed the hungry.

Once she saw a homeless man in Washington D.C. standing on a corner with a sign saying he was hungry and needed food. Wanting to help, she gave him her lunch which was just a granola bar, a piece of fruit and a water bottle. Yet the look on his face revealed how much that meant to him. He said that he hadn’t eaten for a week. That little act only took seconds yet it really helped him.
There are so many people living on the streets and hunger is just one of their many great needs. However, it was so easy to give her a simple lunch and help someone. This inspired Venkat to devise a way to get food to individuals who are the most hungry.

Begin Talking to People

Any of us looking at the needs of others can feel overwhelmed to the point that we do nothing. It’s hard and uncomfortable reaching out to others and starting conversations. It’s hard to stay on top of all that we have in our own lives. Yet for Venkat, she didn’t overthink, she just acted.
She began making phone calls, sending emails and approaching business owners face-to-face to ask for donations. From this point, excess food was picked up by volunteers. Foods like bagged salads, hot entrees and bagels were gotten and then delivered to food pantries and local shelters.
Today, NEST4US has helped over 12,000 homeless people by providing food and other needed items.

Adding Something Personal

Secured to each bag of food given out is a personally-written note of affirmation, love and optimization. Often the note includes a colorful drawing. For those living on the streets, it’s easy to feel forgotten and invisible. Imagine how it would feel to receive a message of hope and love along with some food? It can feed one’s body and spirit.
Venkat got volunteers of all ages to write these positive notes. One homeless individual shared how he kept each note he received and how it really lifted his spirits to feel that he was cared about. Anyone can write a note of encouragement to help someone and it can go a long way to give someone a needed boost.
Teenager Helps Feed Thousands of Homeless People 04 - Donate a Car

It Changed Me

As much as helping others changes the person being helped, it also changes the person doing the service. This is true with Venkat. Running NEST has helped her learn vital skills like leadership, public speaking, writing and time management. But most of all, it has given her a perspective of putting other people first.
Whatever she does in the future, she definitely still wants to keep helping people. May we each be inspired to look outside ourselves, like Venkat, and find joy in helping people around us who are in need.

Read more about this story on Reader’s Digest.