Edison, NJ – The Sai Datta Peetham, located at 902 Oak Tree Road,  in South Plainfield, held its annual Back to School Drive on Saturday. The congregation donated school supplies to the Edison School District.

The drive, which ran from August 8 through the 31, collected an assortment of school supplies including backpacks, crayons, pencils, binders, and notebooks.

“Unfortunately for some families right here in Edison and South Plainfield, this is a time of stress and financial hardship,” said Vamsi Garuda, a Board member at the temple.  “This is our way of giving back and helping the community we are part of.”

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Mahesh Bhagia, Special Assistant to Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey, joined Edison School Board President Jerry Shi to accept the donations on behalf of the school district.

“We really appreciate the generosity of the Sai Datta Peetham,” said Mr. Bhagia. “Edison is blessed to have so many wonderful organizations throughout the entire township that are engaged and want to give back to the community. We all have to work together, take care of each other, that’s the only way this works,” he said.

The supplies will be donated to an Edison elementary school. 

“Supporting our schools is very important to our congregation,” explained Subha Patibandla, who heads the congregation’s charity efforts. “We look forward to continuing our working relationship with the Edison Board of Education and doing our part to help all our students. I want to thank Mr. Shi who worked with us on this project,” she said.

Now in its sixth year, the Sai Datta Peetham routinely hosts charitable events. In addition to the annual Back to School Drive, the temple also conducts a Thanksgiving Food Drive, health fairs, blood drives, and fundraisers to help  victims of natural disasters.  Last year, the congregation collected hundreds of toys, during a holiday drive, that were donated to local shelters. The temple also delivers food to local shelters every Sunday at noon. 

Raghu Sharma (Raghu Ji), the founder of Sai Datta Peetham, said he hopes that the Back to School drive will become an annual tradition. "Being a part of the larger Edison community is very important to us," he said. "Community service is an integral part of our faith and culture."