Indian Americans from Southern California raise funds for India


As India was hit with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Indian Americans who have strong ties with the country felt devasted and extremely helpless.

However, many of the community members did not sit idle, wondering what to do. Many organizations, business owners, and even individuals, especially in Southern California, woke up to the reality of their motherland began numerous fund-raising activities to support India fight the battle.

Sunil Tolani, philanthropist and CEO of Los Angeles-based Prince Organization stated, “There are several high-profile Indian Americans in the hospitality industry in southern California. We are engaged in raising funds to support healthcare infrastructure in India through various sources, including our franchise partners such as Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Choice Hotels, Ramada Hotels, Holiday Inn, and Hyatt.”

Shachi Mehra, executive chef and co-owner of two contemporary Indian restaurants, ADYA, in Orange County, and her business partner Sandeep Basrur felt that as small business owners with families in India, it was their duty to do something to support the relief efforts in India.

“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for the community to support our fundraiser and make the biggest impact we could, so we decided to donate 100 percent of our restaurant sales from our two locations for a period of one week to the American India Foundation (AIF),” Mehra said.

“We saw a great showing from the local Indian American community, but the support extended from there to a wide demographic including those who had never visited us before. The response was heart-warming,” Mehra said.

In addition to hoteliers and restaurants, many other religious organizations came together to raise funds.

Tolani said, “We are also raising funds through community and religious organizations such as Sikh gurudwaras, Hindu temples and churches.”

The ADYA team had managed to raise more $29,100 in merely just a week’s time.

“It was so great to see the hard work from our entire ADYA team. Our industry has been challenged this past year, but everyone put in 200 percent to make the week run smoothly and shatter expectations. This fund-raiser was proof that when we come together as a community, we can make the biggest impact,” the Jaipur-born chef, who has family living in different cities in India, added.

Doctors of Indian origin in Los Angeles, too, are mobilizing resources to buy and send oxygen concentrators to India.

“With appeals to our members and the larger Indian community in southern California, funds have been pouring in to support our efforts. So far, we have collected $500,000 and funds are still coming in,” said Dr Bharat Patel, founder of the Association of Los Angeles Physicians of Indian Origin (ALAPIO).

“We have purchased 500 10-liter oxygen concentrators and are in the process of receiving and distributing them in the next few days in Delhi and Vadodara.” Patel added. “We have also authorized purchase of 1,000 smaller concentrators that will be delivered and distributed soon in collaboration with charitable organizations such as Joy of Sharing, Sarva Mangal Trust and Pratham,”

The ALAPIO working committee is regularly holding online meetings to plan more fund-raising initiatives, he added.