Winter Coat Drive: Indianapolis, IN
Love forms the very basis of service. In Sai Baba’s words, “Service is love in action.” This has been the guiding spirit of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Indianapolis. Service is not a project. A planned activity alone is not service. It has to be accompanied by a spontaneous selfless feeling for others. A heartfelt prayer at the sight of a rushing ambulance is service; living a life without hurting others is service; cooking for a sick neighbor is service; not judging those who do not participate in formal service activities is service; curbing the self-interested feeling of ‘I and my family’ is service; seeing God in all is service and realizing the truth that by serving others, we are serving and transforming ourselves is perhaps the greatest service.
The Sri Sathya Sai Center of Indianapolis has been dedicated to the path of service for many years. Routine service activities at the Sai Center include a monthly soup kitchen and collecting and donating food cans and clothing to the needy. Members also visit the elderly at a senior home and play Bingo with them and present goodies and Christmas gifts to them. They also provide relief to victims of natural disasters when needed.
One such community service event, a ‘Coat Drive’ took place on a cold winter day on 7 December 2019, at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Indianapolis. Sai Center members, along with few Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students, donated 125 sets of winter coats, scarves, socks, gloves along with a care package which contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitizer, wash cloth among other items. The care packages were put together ahead of time on Ladies’ Day by the Sai Center ladies who sang devotional songs while they packed.
As the homeless people entered the Church, Sai volunteers greeted them with a smile and asked them their coat size. The volunteers then handed over the correct-sized coats along with other winter essentials and the care package. SSE kids had, with much love in their hearts, made beautiful cards for the homeless individuals. It was a beautiful sight to see the homeless guests smile as they took, with heartfelt thanks, both the card and the winter essentials bagged in a large sack. They were then led to a food table with cookies, cheese sandwiches, and warm cider. The SSE children and their teachers delighted the guests with Christmas carols while they enjoyed their meal. The volunteer’s hearts were filled with love and gratitude for the precious opportunity to serve the homeless guests and felt their hearts expand and transformed a little by this wonderful moment as they basked in the warmth and love radiating in that Church that day.