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FOG event spreads Holiday Cheer for the less fortunate

FOG event spreads Holiday Cheer for the less fortunate
December 21
06:33 2017

FREMONT, CA: On Sunday, December 17, the annual FOG Toy Drive was held at the Fremont Hindu Temple. This charitable event that is intended to bring joy to less privileged children is now a few years old. The toys go to children in juvenile centers and the kids of incarcerated people.

Ms. Kamal Nair is the driving force behind the Toy Drive – one of the people who initiated it along with Dr. Romesh Japra, FOG Founder and Convener, Mr. Rajesh Verma, Co-founder, and Mr. Kamal Sahney, another long time FIA member and esteemed volunteer.

Ms. Manali Brahmbhatt is the Co-Chair and main coordinator.

Donors had contributed a variety of toys from cuddly teddy bears to little cars to bow-and-arrow sets, games, building sets, and more, making for a heartwarming sight in the main hall of the temple.

The temple priests and Dr. Japra initiated the program with an invocation to Shri Ganesha. Doctor then called upon the Board of Trustees of the Fremont Hindu Temple – Mr. Rajesh Verma, Ms. Manorama Joshi, Mr. Deepak Chhabra and Ms. Veena Birla on the stage and welcomed the dignitaries and volunteers.

Kamal Nair with Esa and Judge

Judge Charles Smiley of Alameda County Superior Court Probation, Juvenile Justice, Commissioner Chair, Arnold Perkins and Commissioner Louise Anderson, Alameda County Juvenile Justice, and officials from Juvenile and Probation departments of Alameda and Santa Clara counties, along with local elected officials, graced the occasion. Nikki Phan, Home Mortgage Consultant, Wells Fargo Bank, was also present.

Dr. Japra introduced Ms. Kamal Nair – she has now been recognized with the title of Commissioner Emeritusin Alameda County for her work with disadvantaged sections of the society including victims of domestic violence -as “his sister, who has been involved with him in this journey of the last 34 years.” (The Fremont Hindu Temple and associated charities were started in 1983.)

Ms. Nair said in her speech, “My passion has been for the children because I think we need to mold them, we need to give them the values. No kid is bad, all kids are good, it is all the path they took on to. We have to realize that we need to bring them back. And by giving them love…no one has the definition of what love is, but by giving them the embracement… kind words make a difference.”

She made special mention of Dr. Japra’s daughter, Dr. Deepa Japra – she is now a physician in Fairfield Emergency Room – and son, Jay Japra, who helped start the program a few years ago, and Mrs. Sunita Japra, who though always in the background, is a leader of this initiative.

Kansen Chu presenting certificate to Dr Japra

Judge Smiley expressed his gratitude and appreciation, saying, “I just wanted to say that walking in here, seeing all these wonderful gifts…it truly warms my heart to see a community that is an example of so many things that have been true – one, that we can all take care of one another, that children matter, they need to feel connected, that they need to feel the love, as Kamal Nair mentioned. And you have done it so beautifully today…you have been doing it for years.”

Assemblyman Kansen Chu who was there with his wife, Daisy Chu, said that this event was “very close to their hearts”. He added, “In Silicon Valley, we have generated a lot of wealth. However, there are still people being left behind. And the Toy Drive in the Christmas season will mean a lot to those kids who cannot afford a gift. I want to express my sincere appreciation for Dr. Japra and all the FOG team members who have worked very hard over the last few months to make this event a success.

“He wished everyone a very, very happy holiday season adding that 2018 would be a better year for all of us.

He then presented Dr. Japra with a certificate of appreciation.

Dr. Japra talked about all the programs that were held at the temple since its establishment in 1983 – the Seniors Program, Youth Program, Woman Empowerment, ‘Mela’, Parade, Film Festival and Summit, and then referenced the people who made it happen, sometimes sacrificing their career. He introduced Council man Dr. Raj Salwan who is also a physician, saying, “He had to fight elections to get into this and it is not an easy job. We are so very proud of him that he has become the role model for many of our youngsters here… and now, he is serving our community over here.”

Kathy Martinez, Deputy Probation Officer, Santa Clara County, expressed her gratitude for having her county included, “It so happens that there are some extremely fortunate individuals and some not so fortunate ones. We are thankful and extremely gracious to be part of this.”

(Usually, only Alameda County is included as the cities of Fremont and Oakland, where the recipient juvenile centers are, fall under it.)

Toys on stage

Manali Brahmbhatt, the Coordinator of the Toy Drive, spoke, “Five years ago, our organization decided to make special efforts to bring joy in the lives of underprivileged children during holiday season.”

She acknowledged the contributions of local schools, hospitals, churches, pharmacies and companies such as Cisco, Google, Kaiser and learning schools in collecting toys, blankets and donations for the drive.

She gave special thanks to Charuben (Mrs. Charu Vaidya, one of the earliest FIA members along with her husband, Mr. Chaitanya Vaidya), Rajesh and Madhu Gupta of Keen Learning school and Dharminder and Shalini Dewan of Nurture Kids.

Esa Ehmen-Krause, Alameda County Probation Department Deputy Chief Probation Officer, presented Dr. Japra with another Certificate of Appreciation and Ms. Lily Mei, Mayor of Fremont, also expressed her thanks to the organizers.

Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a sumptuous lunch at the temple “Preeti Bhoj”, marking a satisfying close to a deeply fulfilling day.

Lakshmi Iyer
India Post News Service

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