Coming Clean: North San Diego, CA
The Sri Sathya Sai Center of North San Diego wondered how they could help others during the pandemic. The answer was for Sai Center members - from young Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students to older home-bound devotees - to pack hygiene kits for those in need. Prior to the quarantine, families would get together and pack hygiene kits three to four times per year as a service activity. The Center officers would then deliver the hygiene kits to organizations which distributed them to those in need.
Due to the restrictions imposed by the quarantine, the hygiene kit service project was adapted so that each family purchased the items and packed the hygiene kits on their own. Large Ziploc bags were generously filled with toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, combs, socks, deodorant, washcloths, soaps, and in some cases, tee shirts and face masks, and messages of love.
Because COVID-19 prohibited Sai families from interacting with potential recipients, parents and grandparents were encouraged to show videos produced by Solutions for Change (one of the recipient organization) to the SSE children. These videos showed recipients describing their experiences of living on the streets and how they had to learn survival skills. One video showed a mother and three children who had lived under a bridge before connecting with Solutions for Change that helped them find housing, food, work, and hygiene supplies. These videos helped the children understand that families similar to their own, who were once financially secure, could end up homeless due to job loss or illness. Watching the video made the children feel empathy for the homeless families and include the homeless in their prayers. In the end, the children felt eager to pack the hygiene kits and were gratified to play a small role in helping these families.
After assembling the kits, families dropped off the hygiene kits at two organizations that the Sai Center regularly supports: Interfaith Community Services and Solutions for Change. The SSE children saw homeless people lined up outside the organizations to collect lunch and other supplies. They also noticed the happy and friendly workers who collected the hygiene kits, and learned that serving others brings happiness to the givers as well as to the receivers. One center member observed, “over the years of working with SSE children, it has been rewarding to watch them grow with Sai values. I believe I am witnessing the reality of His words ‘expansion is My life.’”