At a very young age, Neha Gupta learned of the needs of underprivileged children. Embracing her heritage, she spent each birthday giving food and gifts to orphans in India while visiting her grandparents. By age nine, Neha was distraught to learn the orphans lacked the means to acquire proper education. Understanding the importance of an education and a supportive family to guide one through life, she turned her empathy for the children into action. A mere 13 years old, Neha created Empower Orphans, a non-profit organization that uses several fund-raising methods to collect money for underprivileged and orphaned children and provide them with opportunities for education and an improved quality of life.
Beginning with a garage sale of her toys, Neha’s fund-raising efforts blossomed, and eventually expanded to making and selling wine charms and participating in craft fairs. She traveled door to door in her community to help make an impact on other children’s lives. Her passion to help others was so contagious that her classmates also helped her raise money for her organization.
Observing the need to improve education, Empower Orphans started a library in 2006 at an Indian orphanage in the hometown of Neha’s grandparents. Two hundred children received stationery and 20 older children now have trade books from which they can learn to be self-sufficient. Additionally, nutritious food, warm clothes, blankets and footwear were provided to the children to brave the treacherous winters in northern India. She extended her caring spirit further, helping improve education for 360 underprivileged students of Shree Geeta Public School. Ten of the older girls can now become seamstresses and develop independence with their new sewing machines. More so, Neha sponsored 10 children’s education and single-headedly organized dental and eye exams for the 360 children.
From Neha’s efforts, she has managed to raise $14,000 for Empower Orphans. She recently received the Gold Level of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, and accepted second prize in 2008 for Wachovia Corporation’s “Who Would You Thank” national award. Neha’s goal for 2010 is to raise $20,000 to start a library for Shree Geeta Public School, support a center for 35 hearing and speech impaired children and build a vocation-training center for older children. An inspiration and role model for other young teenagers, Neha’s philanthropic accomplishments at such a young age are to be commended.