Sivani Arvapalli, 13, of South Windsor, Conn., nominated by the Indian Valley Family YMCA and an eighth-grader at Timothy Edwards Middle School, volunteers with a group that has raised nearly $94,000 for child-focused charities by conducting talent shows and organizing benefit dinners and entertainment events. Six high school students started the “Power of Peace (POP)” volunteer group several years ago to improve the lives of children. In 2013, Sivani participated in the group’s first fundraiser, a talent show. Inspired by her father, an avid volunteer, Sivani officially joined the group the following year. “I believe volunteering is important because it shapes people into better humans and makes them more selfless,” said Sivani. “My decision was to make a change in our world, whether it is the smallest or biggest thing.”
The POP group meets once a week to discuss upcoming events, projects and ideas. As one of their events draws near, members break into four teams to organize logistics, guest reception and donations, food and stage operations. When it’s over, the members pick charities to support with their proceeds. The group has raised funds for sick children at the Hole in the Wall Gang camp, “adopted” 10 orphans each year at the Atma Vidya Ashram in India, donated Thanksgiving turkeys to a food bank, and provided Christmas toys for a local children’s hospital. On her own, Sivani also spent the last three summers tutoring children and organized a neighborhood lemonade stand to raise money for a school program.