Daanya Saraff noticed that there were homeless people on the streets in Washington D.C. when she was five. Her dad owns stores downtown and Daanya was alarmed to see so many people on the street in the cold. Of course there had to be something she could do to make a difference. Her first project was to give Christmas presents to kids at the Katherine Hanley Center, a gift of kindness that’s become a tradition for her, and her younger brother, Devansh. Her next move was to organize bake sales when she was seven, raising $250 for Ellie’s Hats. And the momentum kept growing, as she made a difference by distributing care packages to folks on the street, raising money for the No kid Hungry organization and distributing more than 2500 face masks, face shields and head scrubs to essential workers. Her rallying cry? Be Kind and Rise, the non-profit she co-founded with her parents to create volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages to give back to the community.
What inspires you to volunteer?
My mom and dad are my inspiration. They are always finding ways to give back to the community. Watching them do kind acts made me realize there is a huge need for kindness in the world. When I started helping others and saw how even small things can make a big impact, that keeps me motivated.
Describe your volunteer role with Be Kind and Rise?
I have been volunteering since I was five. I started sharing my birthday gifts with children at the Katherine Hanley shelter home, and now it has become our holiday tradition. Because of my dedication towards helping others, my parents helped me start my own non-profit, Be Kind and Rise. I plan different events with my mom and host them to raise funds to help and give back to the community.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing people smile and feel warm and joyful because of an act of kindness makes me feel content and happy. This is by far the most rewarding part of the work. This is a way for me to bring joy to myself, as helping others uplifts you and makes you a better person.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
First, that it’s a lot of fun helping others. I have also realized that there is so much poverty, homelessness and helpless people out there…more than we can imagine. I also have learned that there are lots of people who are willing to help others and bring positive change in their communities. I’ve gotten better in my people skills for sure – and I’ve ever learned some sewing skills from my grandma.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
Currently I am working on an appreciation project for teachers and staff in Navy elementary school. I am leading my Girls Scouts troop to create thank you bags for teachers to let them know that we appreciate that they all are working so hard and are so patient with the whole new virtual thing and we all love them! I am also working on thanksgiving meal prep bags for underprivileged families with kids in our area.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
It’s very important because if even one person does something good, it creates a positive impact in someone’s life that could bring him joy. Tomorrow that person might be kind to others and this chain continues. If there are more kind people in this world, it will be a better place filled with love and peace.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
That it’s very easy to help others! There are million ways of giving back no matter how old you are or how much money you have. By helping others you are making yourself a better person, and the joy you experience is amazing!
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Daanya? Find local volunteer opportunities.