ASHBURN, Va. — With Thanksgiving next week, several local teens are gearing up to make this holiday season a little brighter for those in need.
Shreyaa and Esha Venkat started the nonprofit NEST4US four years ago. "The giving spirit has always been in our family. Our parents have taught us different stories of our grandparents and great-grandparents serving in the community and it’s carried on to us," said Shreyaa Venkat.
During the pandemic, they have helped with virtual tutoring, donated to local teachers and have given back to our first responders. This week they participated in World Kindness Week to show their appreciation to those hit hardest during the pandemic.
"We know how difficult some of their jobs are especially during the pandemic and we know how alone people are feeling right now and neglected. We really wanted to be that family for them and show them that we really care and appreciate all that they are doing for us," said Shreyaa Venkat.
Now they are gearing up for Thanksgiving during a holiday season and trying to spread positivity during these challenging times.
"One of our special projects that’s coming up is our annual Thanksgiving volunteer event. Normally before COVID, we would go to DC and provide a large feast for the whole community living on the street," said Esha Venkat.
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"We don’t really feel like volunteers at that event. We feel like we are their family which is so near and dear to our hearts," Esha Venkat.
"Now due to COVID, we are unfortunately unable to host this annual Thanksgiving feast for the homeless which we are very sad about but we still wanted to do something special for our community this Thanksgiving. We’re still planning to pack hundreds of sandwich bags filled with sandwiches, chips, cookies, granola bars, fruit, water and our signature notes of encouragement," said Shreyaa Venkat.
The teens have been recognized for their service, including the prestigious George H. W. Bush Points of Light award.
Shreyaa and Esha Venkat both credit their parents for sparking their passion for volunteering. "I want to shoutout our parents because without them, nothing would be possible. They have been by our side from the beginning. They are actually the ones who taught us the true meaning of service, and showed us how we could make a difference even being young children," said Shreyaa Venkat.
"Even past high school and college, I definitely want to continue doing NEST4US in the years to come because we know people will always be in need no matter wherever we go," said Esha Venkat.