10th year of DaanUtsav Kicks off with hundreds of volunteers participating

Bhubaneswar: The 10th year of DaanUtsav or the Joy of Giving Week kicked off with the Day of Service by Bakul Foundation in which hundreds of volunteers participated across the state in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Burla, Paralakhemundi and Bhawanipatna.
The Daan Utsav or the Joy of Giving Week is a national festival of giving celebrated for a week every year starting on 2nd October (Gandhi Jayanti) to 8th October. Bakul Foundation, which is a movement to promote volunteerism and an attempt to demonstrate the power of volunteerism, has been celebrating 2nd October as a National Day of Service in which every year volunteers of Bakul in Odisha go in groups to different orphanages, old age homes and slums and spread joy and learning. The event is a platform for many people to experience volunteering for the first time and many volunteers initiated in the process have continued volunteering. It’s the same volunteers who have taken leadership to celebrate the Day of Service even after they have moved to other cities. Hence, the Day of Service was celebrated today by Bakul volunteers from Odisha in 15 cities of the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Guwahati etc
This year was special as it was the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi and as a tribute young volunteers have turned up in unprecedented numbers for the Day of Service. Pooja Mishra of Bakul Foundation, who coordinated the activity, said that in Bhubaneswar itself there were about 350 volunteers including students from KIIT, IIIT, XUB and youth groups such as TPH, Enactus and SRC. They were divided into groups that went into 15 slums of Bhubaneswar to engage about 1500 children in activities such as storytelling, craft and games. Celebrities such as Anu Choudhury also went into the slums and engaged with children much to their joy. Anu went to Durga Mandap Basti in Satyanagar and Shanti Nagar Basti in Unit 3 where she danced with the children as well making it a most memorable evening for them.
Many photographers volunteered and brought joy to both children and volunteers through their beautiful pictures. “We could have such a high participation because Pratyush Maharana from Infosys also volunteered to create a very convenient registration portal for volunteers and for the Bakul team to coordinate them.
Alok Kumar, who was responsible for coordinating with the slums and mobilizing children there, said that, “We could work in 15 slums because of our partnership with BMC and facilitation by BMC functionaries.”
The Day of Service has been a signature event by Bakul Foundation during DaanUtsav since 2012 and the only event of DaanUtsav that happens on a national scale but has scaled up from Bhubaneswar. BAKUL has been celebrating DaanUtsav since its 1st year in 2009, when Nandita Das came down to do storytelling at the Bakul Library and inaugurated the giving away of 200,000 books donated by Pearson to Bakul to give away to children. In 2010, the year in which DaanUtsav spread its roots in Odisha, Bakul organized a massive collection drive of books, clothes and toys that came to 20 mini trucks and gave them to Goonj to be distributed among the needy. Other interesting initiatives by BAKUL in previous editions of DaanUtsav have been fundraising dinners in which the volunteers cooked their best dishes for donors. Interesting campaigns have been Buy 1, Give 1 Free in association with Reliance Fresh where people could buy dry food for children in orphanages while they shopped and the inter-school Book Bucket Challenge in which schools competed with each other in mobilizing books to set up new Bakul Libraries.