Maya Isha:

Indian American students Maya and Isha Pasari (at top) recently distributed books to all the first graders at James Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif., through their nonprofit organization, Hats and Books Foundation. (hatsandbooks.org photo)

While attending a gala for an Indian American nonprofit organization with their father in 2018, a pair of Indian American sisters found the inspiration that led them toward their own charity.

Southern California-based Maya and Isha Pasari started the Hats and Books Foundation after Senator Corey Booker’s “empowering” speech at a Pratham gala, where he demonstrated how even a small action can change someone’s life for the better, encouraged them to start a nonprofit of their own.

The organization, according to their website, provides underprivileged kids around the world with “fun and entertaining” books to stimulate their reading and learning interest as well as hats to protect them from harmful UV rays.

“As kids, we loved reading picture books, but now we realize that many children don’t have the same financial access to books as we did,” the duo explains on their website. “…As young kids, our mother would always remind us to wear hats when we went outside to play. We understand now how real sun damage is and its effects on the skin.”

They add, “We firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to learn and stay protected, just like we did.”

The Hats and Books Foundation has already partnered with the Santa Ana Unified School District to distribute books and hats to all the first- and second-grade students in the school district.

“Based on our discussion with the representative of the SAUSD, there are about 6,600 students in the SAUSD first and second grades, who could potentially benefit from our program,” the Pasari sisters shared on their website before they distributed the books. “Hats & Books Foundation’s goal is to distribute a ‘Piggy’ book and a hat to each student in first and second grades. We believe that by giving each student a fun book to take home and read, a piece of school is always with them and it will develop a strong passion for reading and learning.”

They recently distributed the book, “Piggy,” to all the first graders at James Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana, Calif.

The first installment in the “Piggy” series, where Piggy goes on a journey to find his best friend Cow, has been created by Maya.

Their future plan includes distributing hats and books to children in Mexico.

For more information, visit www. hatsandbooks.org.

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