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September 2, 2011 > Students raise funds to help the world's children

Students raise funds to help the world's children

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Courtesy of Pearange

An often heard expression, "What's in a name?" takes on new meaning with Pearange, a non-profit organization formed by a resourceful group of young teenage girls. By cleverly combining the names of a pear and orange together to form Pearange, they hope to convey their aspirations of blending charity and art to raise funds for the education of needy children in other countries.

The group first began about three years ago in Fremont, according to one of its founders, Evani Shah, now 14, who recently relocated to San Ramon. "It all started as just a regular sleepover with me and my neighbor, Isha Vazirani. Every time we would get together, we always would find something artsy to do. This particular time, we tried quilling (rolling strips of paper into creative designs.) The next morning, we decided it would be great to put the quilled pieces onto cards to sell and help raise money for charity," Shah explained.

Soon other students joined their effort and through the creation of these greeting cards, each one was able to express their unique personality. According to Shah, the average time spent on making cards is between two and three hours. "We try and keep our own costs as minimal as possible, but the cards turn out to cost a lot, due to all of the supplies. We consider ourselves as giving a free gift for a nominal donation," adds Shah. The cards have been sold at various club meetings, events, fairs and festivals in the area, including the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival and Fremont's Festival of the Arts.

Selecting the charities to receive the funds was something that Shah took seriously. "The day Pearange was officially formed," explains Shah, "I was looking up charities and came across an index of many educational charities. The name Child's Dream caught my heart out of all of those posted. After much communication with them, we decided it couldn't get better than this. Being the person I am, I had to dig deeper and this charity exceeded all of my hopes."

Of importance to Shah is that Child's Dream, based in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, has a low-overhead as far as office expenditures. Last year, 93.5 percent of its funds went directly where needed, building schools in poverty-stricken or disaster affected areas in the region. (http://www.childsdream.org). To date, Pearange has donated $1,000 to "Child's Dream."

Recently, the Pearange student group also decided to utilize the proceeds from the quilled cards, to support a second charity in Project Kesho, located in East Africa. Shah explains, "In Swahili, Kesho means tomorrow; a new day with endless possibilities, a day to make a difference in someone's life." Project Kesho focuses on improving education in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. It was founded by a team, concerned about the future of Africa's children, who believed that education has the power to change entire communities. Typically the vast majority of its donated funds go to support various school and educational projects there. (http://www.projectkesho.org/).

To ensure that funds are received and used in the way intended, members of Pearange stay in contact with the directors of the charities being supported. Pearange members - oldest to newest - are: Evani Shah (co-founder, age 14 - grade 10); Isha Vazirani (co-founder, age 13 - grade 9); Rajvee Tibrewala (age 16 - grade 11); Trisha Malhotra (age 13 - grade 8); Tarika Malhotra (age 11 - grade 6); Arjun Mehta (age 13 - grade 8); Stegi Ilanthiraian (age 15 - grade 10); Kirthana Srikanth (age 14 - grade 10) and Abi Babu (age 15 - grade 10).

"I feel like we are making a difference in not just one child's, life but multiple schools. If we all work together, we will help improve the future in these countries, one child at a time," adds Shah. "We hope to visit the schools and children themselves one day, to see what a difference we made."

For more information on Pearange or how to support their efforts, visit www.pearange-cards.webs.com. (A quilled card will be gifted in return for a nominal donation.)

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