In November 2021, the Story County Alliance for Philanthropy showed appreciation to many local residents during their 16th annual Philanthropy Day awards. Ames Middle schooler, Sia Agnihotri, received the award of Rising Star Philanthropist for her Jars of Hope.
When Agnihotri heard that COVID cases were rising dramatically in India, she wanted to find a way to help. With many family members impacted, she turned her worry into hope with a fundraiser called Jars of Hope.
“I would hear my mom and dad talk and they sounded worried,” said Agnihotri. “To help, I decided to start this fundraiser for COVID relief in India.”
In April 2020, Agnihotri turned an idea into reality. Making no-bake cheesecakes seemed easy as it was something she could mostly do on her own. All while also completing her middle school studies, Agnihotri worked tirelessly as her fundraiser began to take more and more orders. In fact, Jars of Hope became a family affair with her mom helping make jars, younger sister labeling, and dad driving her for deliveries.
“As a parent, it makes both of us very proud,” said Manu Smriti, Sia’s mother. “I hope her kindness will inspire many other kids her age.”
According to a video from United Way of Story County, one of her nominators said, “All of those who best know Sia describe her as a shy, reserved person. But she was willing to leap outside of her comfort zone to help others.”
While she no longer raises money with her no-bake cheesecakes, she is still finding ways to impact her community. Active in the AMS Builders Club, which teaches students about community service and leadership, Agnihotri has given back through multiple fundraisers including winter scarves and a book drive.
Jars of Hope not only showed Agnihotri’s tenacity, but also the generosity of strangers. When asked what she would say to the people who purchased her jars, she quoted Aesop, “No act of kindness big or small is ever wasted.”