Busy Bee Students Give Helping Hands


Shantala Todaha

BUSY BEE: Shantala Todaha crochets animals for her non-profit, FurPaws. One of the animals she likes to crochet are bumblebees, as pictured above. Photo by Shantala Todaha

Alondra Aguirre, Staffer

Throughout the school year, LASA students have engaged in various activities to get involved in causes they are passionate about. From forming their own organizations to participating in school-wide community events, several LASA students have furthered their involvement with the community.

Many schools, like LASA, encourage their students to help out and volunteer. Programs such as National Honor Society (NHS) require students to obtain a certain amount of community service hours per semester and according to junior Elizabeth Halloran, programs like this are what led her to start volunteering.

“In middle school, I went to Ann Richards, and I was required to do service every year,” Halloran said. “Now here at LASA, as part of NHS, I’m required to continue doing service. Now it’s become a pastime that I try to do at least once a weekend.” 

Sophomores Shantala Todaha and Saharsa Arabba founded a business, Austin FurPaws, where they create and sell homemade crafts. All of their proceeds are donated to an animal welfare center in Bangalore, India. According to Todaha, giving back to her Indian community is very important to her. 

“My community is basically India, where my family is with all my relatives, and I really care about it,” Todaha said. “I also feel like I have this connection with dogs, and I really speak to them. So by doing this, I’m giving back to not only the people of India but also to the dogs of India.”

  Junior Aurna Mukherjee has also found ways to give back to her community through founding Harmonies for the Elderly, a club where students go to nursing homes and sing for seniors. She has seen how these small acts of community involvement have impacted people. 

“It helps for a lot of these senior residents to have daily entertainment,” Mukherjee said. “It allows patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s to remember what kind of songs or music they listened to in the past, so helping the community has a really important impact.” 

Not only does helping the community have a positive impact on others, according to Todaha, it can also be spread awareness. According to the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, there are over 62 million stray dogs in India, and over 34% of Indian dog owners have abandoned their dogs. The stray dog crisis in India is a situation Todaha hopes to mitigate through FurPaws. 

“I feel like when you give back to the community it not only just makes you feel good, but it also gives you the sense of awareness that there are people out there in the world who might not have the same things as you do, and that they need an extra helping hand in order to overcome an obstacle that they are facing,” Todaha said.

Similar to Todaha, Halloran believes that helping the community helps broaden her worldview. She also said that volunteering helps her create connections with adults who volunteer. 

“Giving back to the community definitely puts my life in perspective, and helps me better understand what other people are going through,” Halloran said. “I also get to meet new people like adults, and we talk about the service that we do. I just think it has the effect of being able to create connections.” 

There are numerous ways in which people can start getting involved with helping the community. According to Todaha, choosing an issue that stems from passion is a good first step.

“If you see something that really strikes you as not right with the system, or anything that really just touches your heart, iIf you really want to fix something, then definitely go out and volunteer,” Todaha said. “Help those in need. It will really make you feel good in the end.” 

Mukherjee has always been passionate about singing, which is what led her to the idea of singing for seniors. According to her, it has been rewarding to get more of the student body involved. 

“I’ve been passionate about singing for a long time,” Mukherjee said. “So I started doing this a while ago, just individually performing for some residents because I wanted to give back to my community. Being able to become president of Harmonies for the Elderlies allowed me to reach a different group of people and also get LASA involved in it, which I think has a bigger impact.” 

Halloran believes that volunteering has had a positive impact on her life. She feels that community involvement of all kinds can make a big difference.

“I think the impact and the effects that I’ve gotten from volunteering have only made my life better,” Halloran said. “I have helped make other people’s lives better. I think that helping the community, whether it’s your school community or neighborhood, it’s just nice, and a little goes a long way.”