Inspired youth | Sammamish fourth-grader focuses on giving this Halloween
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
October 24, 2012 · 4:49 PM
When Darth Vader roams around Sammamish neighborhoods this Halloween, he won’t be fulfilling the needs of the Dark Side.
In fact, it will be quite the opposite.
Nine-year-old Ajay Gupta, who will dress as the notorious Star Wars villain, decided to take on a mission to help children in need around the world.
“I think it’s important because while we’re happy at Halloween when we collect the candy, it would great if we could make other kids who aren’t as fortunate as we are happy,” Ajay said. “We go around once a year to strangers and asking for free candy while other kids, they can’t.”
Ajay first got the idea while talking to his mother, Vinaya, about a United Nations Children’s Fund project she did as a young girl in Toronto.
“Where I lived, UNICEF was distributed through the school,” Vinaya said. “All kids took boxes, it was just part of Halloween. We moved here and I noticed we didn’t see any.”
Ajay decided this year he was going to change that.
On his own, the Rachel Carson Elementary fourth-grader called the non-profit organization and ordered 150 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF donation boxes.
Not long after, he learned that his father’s employer, Microsoft, had 1,600 extra boxes around. It was then, Ajay realized there was no limit to where he could take his project.
“I’m asking if anybody wants to start it in their neighborhood,” he said.
Ajay already has distributed boxes around his school and local businesses. He also designed flyers on his own and has given presentations to his class and others at his school about the importance of helping others around the world.
“Twenty-five cents gives 10 kids clean water for a day, that’s pretty interesting, you know,” said Ajay, sitting at his makeshift office, otherwise known as his parent’s dinning room table.
In two weeks, he has raised $62 worth of change in his classroom alone. He has passed out boxes to other classrooms and other students, who will take them with them while trick-or-treating.
Ajay’s giving nature appears to already become contagious.
Two kids in his home classroom, Sam Coomes and Cameron Ossinger, have gone “UNICEFing”, which is collecting money before Halloween.
Another classmate, Jane Blisset, has offered to do the same project in her neighborhood, Chambord.
Ajay, who stays active with soccer, baseball, reading and Lego construction, said he will probably consider helping UNICEF again next year. But, if he is unable to tackle the task, there’s a replacement waiting in the wings. His sister, Reva, 7, already has displayed her own interest in taking the boxes to her classroom.
“It’s great to see the light that’s sparked with such a small idea, that it’s turned into this,” Vinaya said. “I feel very proud.”
GIVE A HELPING HAND
Those wishing to participate in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program can email Ajay Gupta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provide an address, the amount of boxes you would like and he will deliver them to you.
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.