Teen Raises Money for Causes Around the World Through Writing

Daily Point of Light # 7719 Jan 5, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Sanjith Sambath. Read his story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Sanjith Sambath started volunteering at a young age, and when he was in 8th grade, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Through his grandparents, the now 16–year old heard about children in his home country of India struggling to continue their education without the technology or internet connection that’s needed for virtual learning. For the past three years, Sambath has conducted writing and reading workshops and tutoring and has raised money for kids around the world with his organization Writing for a Cause.

So far, Sambath has raised thousands of dollars for causes he cares about. He also joined Key2Finesse, a student-run nonprofit, to contribute to $300,000 of charity work.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering and getting involved in my community. Me and my family have benefited a lot in the past from service and my parents would not be in the place where they are today if not for the actions of the community. Giving back and allowing people to have that same journey that I have been so fortunate to have really keeps me inspired with Writing for a Cause.

Specifically with my fundraising efforts with my second nonprofit, which is Key2Finesse, it’s a passion for me to just be able to not only spread the message but also make such an impact on people who are willing to give up funds and donations and contribute tangibly to the cause itself. So I guess being able to be as convincing as possible, spreading the message, getting involved in the community and then being able to see a tangible representation of the impact that you’re making in other people’s lives are the biggest deals to me.

Sanjith Sambath conducts workshops, tutoring sessions and has raised money for kids around the world with his organization Writing for a Cause.

Tell us about your volunteer roles with Writing for a Cause and Key2Finesse.

Writing for a Cause is the organization that I started in the summer of my eighth-grade year and this was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was stuck at home with virtual school and I know for us it wasn’t the biggest issue since we were just staying at home. It was an inconvenience but my grandparents kept telling me stories about kids in the villages who were struggling to go to school and adapt to this new lifestyle. Here in the U.S., we have the capabilities to adapt to this lifestyle but in other places around the world it was a lot harder. Our schools could afford the wifi and the tablets. I just really wanted to do something about students being restricted in going to school. In a lot of places education is the one way to get out of poverty and make a better life for themselves. It’s the gateway to a better life.

In the beginning of Writing for a Cause, I tried to raise money through a variety of ways by just asking for donations and stuff like that, but I thought that being able to do something in exchange for money could have a bigger impact. I decided to use one of my skills that I was working on for a long time, which was writing. I’ve always loved it from a young age. I thought I could use this skill and passion to raise money for students in need. I ended up having one writing contest and a writing workshop. I also do one-on-one workshops. So far, I’ve done around 150 hours with 50 individual students. I’ve had kids from multiple U.S. states, U.K. and Singapore. I’ve raised around $3,000 for charity so far to go to twelve different causes like schools and students who need tuition — things like that. Most recently we were able to fund the purchase of desks and tablets for students in India.

Around the same time, I joined Key2Finesse and every year we host different writing competitions, readings, different classes and workshops. I started off as a participant in one of the competitions and then became a volunteer with the organization.I worked throughout eighth and ninth grade to raise money for causes in my local community. Now I’m an executive board member for the Key2Finesse team. Every year we focus on fundraising for a different charity of choice. In the past, we’ve supported families impacted by cancer, food banks and more. Each year our fundraising goal grows, and we reach out to big businesses in town.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

I think, obviously, doing the actual work behind the organizations is always great, like actually doing the tutoring or raising the money. But the most fulfilling or the most rewarding part of these experiences for me at least is seeing the impact that is actually being made and seeing the kids who we’re helping to fund. It’s always amazing that at Writing for a Cause we’re able to get a video of the children who are jumping for joy because of the desks and the tablets. People just light up when I talk to them about the causes that I’m working with and why I’m so passionate about them. And even seeing people get so invested in helping me fundraise for different causes — I think that’s definitely the most rewarding part.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

In the very beginning, when I started with Writing for a Cause I was very reluctant to start reaching out to people asking for donations and for them to hear what I had to say. But what I learned is that people will listen to what you have to say if you have a mission that you truly care about. So, because I have a passion for the organization, I learned how to pitch myself in a way that people wanted to listen. And because of that, I learned that people are much more open to the idea of supporting me through enrolling in my writing classes or enrolling in the competitions that I was hosting. And really they were open to the idea of helping and they’re open to the idea of helping me in supporting these different causes.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

I think the biggest thing is just to go for it. You never know what kind of impact you’re going to make in someone’s life until you start. I had no idea that I’d be able to raise the money that we were asked to raise or that I had no idea that we would actually be able to reach out to businesses and have them agree to give a portion of their proceeds towards this incredible cause.

If you truly believe in something, if you truly believe in the cause that you’re supporting, then there is no such thing as rejection. There’s only learning opportunities and you will find success a lot more than you might first expect.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Sanjith? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Madi Donham