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High Schoolers Help Teens In Need

Don’t let their ages fool you. They may only be between the ages of 14 and 16, but Hicksville High School students Rhea Manjrekar, Fatemah Mukadum and Annamaria Zisimatos, along with their friends Karishma Kamat and Divya Adbani, from Herricks and Milan Sani from Port Washington, are determined to change the world.

A few months ago, the enterprising teens started CH3, a youth chapter of Children’s Hope India, a nonprofit organization that raises money for children’s programs and resources such as clean water, medical care, and education in India and provides scholarships and funds for counseling services for children of South Asian origin in the United States. After hearing stories from their mothers and family friends who were involved with the organization, the girls decided to start their own chapter to get involved with the cause.

“(We) would hear about these kids who were in trouble and had all these problems, but it was interesting to know that by just doing a little bit, we could go a long way,” said Kamat.

Though the chapter is still in its infancy, the girls already have ambitious goals. They’re currently trying to raise $3,000 to send two local homeless children to summer camp. One of these children is an eight-year-old from Hempstead, the other is a 12-year-old from Jericho.

“You don’t see homelessness and poverty as much here as you may see it in India, but it’s still there,” said Kamat. “We want to raise awareness of it to show that there are needy people living right next door that need help.”

Their first fundraising event takes place Tuesday, April 8 at Friendly’s at 285 S. Broadway in Hicksville. From 5 p.m. to closing, 15 percent of proceeds will go to the CH3’s fundraising efforts. The resourceful teenagers also plan on doing an event at the Landmark Theater in Port Washington later this month, and numerous other restaurant fundraisers in order to meet their $3,000 goal by June. Mukadum, Zisimatos and Manjrekar have also been holding bake sales at Hicksville High School.

The girls are continually thinking of new ideas for events and taking advantage of their connections and resources, which includes social media. The girls say that being in high school is an added benefit as it allows them to reach out to teenagers and know better how to connect with their peers about the cause.

“Kids our age take everything for granted, so we want to open their eyes,” said Manjrekar.

The group says that the most common reaction they get when asking for help is surprise, as many are unused to seeing youngsters advocating for their peers in need.

“It’s always interesting for people to see kids of our age trying to help kids of our age,” says Kamat, who is 16. “But I don’t think that’s a problem at all, we still have a heart to help kids. It doesn’t matter how old we are, we want to have the same impact.”

14-year-old Zisimatos echoed the sentiment. “We want to show that teens can make a difference. Our age doesn’t matter, no matter how old you are you can help,” she said.

For more information on CH3, check out www.childrenshopeindia.org/about-us/ch3/