Student volunteers achieve a mission for community

Story by Jennifer Scales – Columbia VA Health Care System Public Affairs

They share a last name, with no relation to each other.

Yet, they each embrace a common goal to combat hunger in their community.

Neighborhood friends Parth Patel, a high school junior; Jay Patel, high school senior; and eight grader Aadarsh Patel, have taken on the mission to feed the hungry with food drives, in conjunction with Harvest Hope Food Bank.

These young men were also active in the Summer Student Volunteer Program at the Columbia VA Health Care System during the summer, giving support to the IT department helping Veterans and staff.

But when they leave the medical center, their directions turn towards serving others around the city.

“We wanted to make a change by helping people,” Parth said. “So, we go around our neighborhood and collect non-perishable food items at various times throughout the year, sort them and then deliver then to Harvest Hope.”

“Once we have the food, we go through the process of sorting the thousands of cans, boxes or packages that persons have kindly given us,” Jay said. “And even if we miss them, or they want to donate when we are not around, we have a website and email in which they can contact us for pick-ups.”

With his sights on becoming a criminal lawyer, Aadarsh the youngest of the trio, looks forward to keeping the drives going even as Parth and Jay make their college plans to seek careers in orthopedic surgery and medical research, respectively.

“The more we get out to collect items in our neighborhood, the more we get to know everyone, and they also become familiar with us,” Aadarsh said.

The trio also gets other students involved in their drives when school begins, as many of the clubs need projects to work on.

“Spring Valley High School usually has a club, like the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), who pitches in with us when school begins,” Parth said.

Photo by Jennifer Scales