General Services Foundation
Oak City Cares Drive & Candle Fundraiser
Item drives and fundraisers, simple or not, are always good for the community, but have you ever heard of a candle fundraiser to donate hygiene products? A single TikTok inspired Roshni Daruvuri and Avantika Maraghadhavel to come up with this creative idea as they were brainstorming. Roshni Daruvuri and Avantika Maraghadhavel joined General Services Foundation together and wanted to do something unique, not just an item drive, like making candles. In the beginning, they weren’t sure of the specific purpose of the money they raised, but they wanted to do something personal and decided on hygiene products. They had never worked with Oak City Cares before and wanted to help out this new organization GSF was partnering with. Roshni mentioned “People don’t usually think of hygiene products as the first thing people need, but it is important, especially for women [due to feminine hygiene products.]” They raised over $160 by selling personalized candle gifts and used the funds to provide hygiene care ranging from teeth care, first aid kits, sanitizers, body washes, shampoo, and hair care, to smell-good body mists, deodorant, and feminine hygiene products; They made a lasting impact to those at Oak City Cares, a non-profit that provides care for those experiencing homelessness.
Promoting & Advertising
This project took place during the holidays, and the candles made the perfect gift where people could purchase these specialized gifts with personalized and custom-made tags to feel more personal. Roshni and Avantika sold plenty through the “unique gift” idea. The word was spread through clubs at school where members could earn service hours, or the word was spread generally to neighborhood friends and those at GSF.
Planning & Obstacles - “Break Even”
Just like any project, there were some obstacles along the way. Although they purchased the least expensive glasses, jars, and waxes, it took a lot of work to break even because of the pricey glass jars. Overall it was satisfying to “break even.” Along with the cost, bath bombs were originally supposed to be included in the fundraiser but took up too many materials, were challenging to promote, and didn’t come out the best. They had to be cut out of the project and Roshni and Avantika had to break even with losses, with leftover materials, but things went smoothly after.
Outcome & Impact
One implication with fundraising projects is that sometimes one isn’t able to see the physical reactions or you’re not sure where it actually goes, but Roshni passionately described how grateful she was to be given the opportunity to physically pass out the hygiene items. She felt great satisfaction to “Actually see reactions from people, the smiles on people’s faces, and be able to connect with the community.” She also mentioned she was able to see a different side of Cary while even touring Oak City Cares and its facility to realize the direct impact.
Skills & Lessons
Roshni felt it was valuable and rewarding to be able to connect with the community, along with little kids who were excited about candy; It was gratifying for her to see their happy faces.
Roshni’s most important tip was promotion and during the interview, she mentioned “If you’re going to do something similar, out of the box, maybe do it during the holiday season because people are in the giving mood during this season (Christmas, Thanksgiving)” where people are willing to support small businesses. Roshni and Avantika used that to their advantage to promote, which they said was easy and fun to promote with friends! “The more outgoing and unique stuff is the most fun, which you can learn through mistakes since it’s the first time.”
Overall the Candle Fundraiser and Hygiene Care Drive was a success and it shows that thinking outside of the box leads to the best creativity. Roshni and Avantika were gratified to be able to make such an impact on the community while overcoming obstacles.