The West Women and Children's Shelter of Portland offers a haven for women and children who have endured domestic violence, providing them with essential support services such as temporary housing, counseling, and advocacy. Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Beaverton, Oregon have been providing lunch every 2nd Saturday as part of their ongoing support to the residents.

A few members thought they could further assist by collecting gently used toys and books for the children at the shelter. A Toy and Book Drive was launched. What began as a modest effort quickly gained momentum as Center members shared the drive details with their local communities. The response was overwhelming, with toys and books pouring in from many outside the Sai network. In the end, the Sai Center members collected about 80 books and 100 toys.

On March 13 2024, Center members, together with Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students, sorted through the toys and books and organized them by age groups, before delivering them to the shelter along with a hearty burrito lunch. The books and toys were later shared with the children at the facility.

A note of gratitude was received from the shelter.

Dear Sai Volunteers,

Thank you all so much for the time and energy you’ve put into collecting books and toys for the children here at West Shelter. We are so grateful to each and every one of you.”

Parents of the SSE students were grateful that their children had participated in such a meaningful service that taught them several important life lessons. Here are some of the beautiful reflections from the parents.

  • The Toy Drive taught my children the value of giving and detachment – to come to terms with letting go of their books and toys, and giving them to someone they have never met, someone who would enjoy the toys just as much if not more than they did.
  • We are so lucky and fortunate to be able to afford anything for our daughter. But that doesn't mean that we buy her everything she wants. We use hand-me-downs whether it is clothes or toys from other kids. We pass down clothes and toys from our daughter to younger kids as well. This aligns with our philosophy of reduce, reuse and recycle.
  • While my son had committed to donating only 5 books and 5 toys for the drive, he ended up picking 10 books and more than 20 toys to donate for the drive. When I asked if he was okay to part with his stuff, he responded "It's alright Amma, I have more than I need". This was a beautiful moment for me as I saw my son experience the joy of giving. I hope my son learned that sometimes, we may hesitate to take the first step in doing something for others, but when we cross the initial hurdle, the true happiness and bliss we experience from giving is boundless.