The Leaders Readers Network (formerly Give More HUGS) has been a huge source of inspiration for The Smile Project, so when I was introduced to this next group and realized their connection to The Leaders Readers Network, I was instantly sold.
Manogna Jonnalagadda and Prisha Mehta are the co-founders of Project Kind Packs, an education mission based in and around Frisco, Texas.
I didn’t think I could be more impressed by them… and then they shared these words. I am inspired and proud to share their story with you all today. People like Manogna and Prisha remind me that the future is bright. Without further ado, allow me to introduce Project Kind Packs.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Manogna & Prisha: Happiness is being at peace with the present, no matter the circumstances.
Liz: Tell me about your project.
Manogna & Prisha: We are the student leaders behind the newly founded project, Project Kind Packs. Our mission is essentially right in the name: to spread kindness, hope, and encouragement for underprivileged Dallas ISD elementary schools with our “Kind Packs.”
Kind Packs are packages filled with school supplies, books, hygienic supplies, and letters of encouragement. Our fundraiser officially launches on June 19th, and we hope that we receive enough support to fulfill our goal of putting Kind Packs in the hands of 300 students and 20 teachers at the top of the coming school year in August. These past few months have been economically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting for many of these students and teachers, so we want to help them the best we can to restore that motivation, energy, and potential we know lies in every one of them with our “Kind Packs”. We hope that our packages motivate these classrooms to take the 2020-2021 school year in full throttle, and most importantly, make them smile.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Manogna & Prisha: Education is one of the most valuable things in this world. Both of us believe that the right to 100% literacy and quality education should be given to every child regardless of their socioeconomic status. As passionate students who happen to be living in a well-off Dallas suburb, we knew we had the necessary resources and conviction to do something impactful for teachers and students from underfunded schools, whose quality of and access to education had experienced a hard-hit as a result of COVID-19.
Important to note, and a key reason why Project Kind Packs is dear to us, is that we both have a deep love for books. As kids who grew up getting lost in the fantasy worlds of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, reading has always been a significant part of our lives, and we want to share that love with these students by putting books in our Kind Packs for students to enjoy.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Manogna & Prisha: Service, to us, means contributing to something you believe is bigger than yourself. There is no one-size fits all way to go about “service.” It can be anything from donating to a nonprofit to spending a summer in an earthquake-ridden community to rebuild houses. Temporarily setting aside all of your personal considerations and baggage to help others in any needed way - that is service.
Liz: How can people get involved or support your project?
Manogna & Prisha: We have a variety of ways people can get involved! Our fundraiser and all of our volunteer opportunities will be open for involvement on June 19th on our website under the “Get Involved” tab.
We urge anyone who is able to pitch in whatever they can to help us purchase the supplies necessary to construct the Kind Packs and ultimately impact hundreds of lives. Each Kind Pack costs just $10, so for every $10 you donate, you are sponsoring a child or a teacher in need.
We also have volunteer opportunities that include writing an encouraging letter or making a goodie bag of sweets for us to later put in a Kind Pack. You can also make a 30 second, encouraging video for students that we will later feature in a compilation and send to teachers for the students to watch together when they return to class! And for all of the aforementioned opportunities, you can receive volunteer hours, which will be sponsored by our partner organization, The Leaders Readers Network. If you are unable to volunteer or pitch in a few dollars, don’t worry, you can still help us by sharing our project on your social media and with your friends and family! Every contribution counts.
Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for updates about contests, volunteer opportunities, and fundraiser information! We are constantly posting new updates and creating new opportunities for students and others to contribute to our cause. Also check out our website to stay in the know!
Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?
Manogna & Prisha: We are launching a visual art contest on June 21st! The theme of the contest is embracing kindness and diversity in the classroom. All ages and types of art are accepted, and the one that best reflects our mission will get featured on our page and pasted on all 300+ of our Kind Packs. You can also follow our blog on our website for more updates and share it with others.
Liz: Lastly, do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice to leave us with?
Manogna & Prisha: You don’t have to be something to do something. All you need to make a difference is a goal and compassion. If you have these two things then you are unstoppable.