One Year Anniversary of Pennies for Partnerships Rice Drive – Year in Review

One Year Anniversary of Pennies for Partnerships Rice Drive – Year in Review

Hello, Namaste and Tashi Delek from India.

On this day I feel blessed to reflect on the past year and the many wonderful occurrences that have brought the Pennies for Partnerships to the official nonprofit status and the developments thus far. But first a brief look at the years past.

2008- 2010

Many of you may recall the first of Pennies for Partnerships back in 2008 which started as a Penny and Aluminum Can Drive to help fund the TCIA program Tutors for Tibetans (initially called Tibetan Children’s Heritage Fund).  In addition, the fund raiser donated to the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) to provide assistance for the capacity building program know as Stitches of Tibet and a publication titled Light in the Abyss- The Drapchi Fourteen. Then in 2009 we conducted a clothing drive for Tibetan children, the Mark Your Mark campaign which funded markers for teachers at LHA Charitable Trust and an online raffle. In 2010, the focus was placed on helping raise money for a water filter in order to provide safe water for a monastery. Which brings us to 2011…..

Prior to my departure from Fayetteville, Arkansas on January 8th I had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy a night out on the town with friends (oh how I miss dancing). While hanging out at George’s Majestic Lounge listening to friends play, MOV and Crazy Neighbor, I crossed paths with a young man I had never met before who when he found out I was leaving for India in 2 days to do some social work, he handed me $3.00 and said “do something good with it”. My reply to him was “I will feed someone with you $3.00, how’s that? He was all for it. So today I sit and wonder who that messenger was that delivered the $3.00 to me which spearheaded the rice drive to feed hungry people. I wonder if he has any idea the impact his $3.00 has had on other people’s lives.

I attended the teachings of  the Dalai Lama in Saranath (the place where Buddha gave the first teachings of the Four Noble Truths)  prior to moving on to the Bodhgaya. On January 22, 2011 I posted a blog offering a glimpse into the lives of those who live in destitute poverty in Bodhgaya, (the holiest of Buddhist places) located in Bihar State one of the poorest in all of India. My guesthouse I choose was just a short walk through an area where many of the beggars lived but when they were in their homes they did not beg to those who lived among them. Everyday, and every evening I walked by them and felt such immense compassion and sadness for the suffering they must endure each day living without water or electricity in shanty little make shift shacks.

I recalled things the Dali Lama said in his teachings about compassion and decided this time Pennies for Partnerships need not be exclusive for Tibetans. In that blog on Jan 22, 2011 I asked you all if you might be interested in donating rice for those in need who experience hunger in their daily lives…..and you RESPONDED.

The donations started coming in and so on January 26, 2011 Republic Day of India we gifted 13 bags of rice. Thanks to those of you who responded to the call and to my mother who assisted in receiving the generous contributions you made, the grassroots of the Pennies for Partnerships Rice Drive began. And this was my quote on the blog that day:

May no man, woman or child be hungry in a world of plenty and may we care for our brothers and sisters of the world.”

This reflection moves me with emotion as I again remind you that truly everything is made possible by you and I am so blessed to be your messenger of compassion and loving kindness. As I look back over the blog posts from the first deliveries I am moved to tears reminded of what it felt like to do this work and see the joy in the faces of those receiving your gifts. It truly is the greatest gift of all to have experienced this and encountered the many beautiful people who often go unnoticed because they may be classified as the untouchables.

This photo speaks for it’s self of the beauty and joy, the compassion and emotions that overcome us. This is a family where both mother and father are handicapped due to polio and their beautiful young boy who I am sure is malnourished due to issues of poverty and hunger.

Our team who delivered was very diverse in religious affiliation and to this day we maintain this diversity with every distribution. We have Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus all coming together. It was just magical it happened this way and is still occurring without searching out those with difference. It symbolizes for me our global connection as humans, all of us equal in deserving happiness.

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We made two distributions of 13 bags each day. It was necessary to break this into small deliveries as the crowds of people in need would flock to us and of course we were not able to accommodate all. This was the most trying of all…to have to leave pulling away in the rickshaw looking back at those who went unnoticed and unserved.

As you continued to send money to purchase rice my time came to depart to the south of India to the Tibetan settlement camp in Mundgod where the Dali Lama was giving teachings.  It was here in the second largest Tibetan settlement in India that I discovered the Tibetan Organic Farmers. When I approached the Tibetan Organic farmers at their exhibit about purchasing rice for a distribution to the poor and destitute Indian communities surrounding the area they were very pleased and willing to work with me. As we forged the relationship I became aware of the issues of poverty within the organic farming community. I learned of the consequences of organic farming such as lower annual yields in addition to the lack of an organic market in India causing complications for farmers income levels. I learned of climate change and devastation to the crops due to limitations in farming without irrigation systems or early rainfall leaving land fallow. And so the commitment was made at this time to forge a relationship with the Tibetan Organic Farmers to purchase organic rice direct from the farmers offering them a larger return on portions of their yield in an effort to boost their income a small amount while they diligently wait for the organic market to develop in India.

Which brings us to this day; Pennies for Partnerships continues to support organic farming efforts while addressing issues of hunger and poverty in India.

Pennies for Partnerships REVIEW Since January 2011

To date 220 bags of 25 kg each (55 pounds) of rice have been delivered. This totals 5500kg or 12,100 lbs of rice (6.05 Tons).

Current Plans for Future Development

In October 2011, I discovered a community living in tents style huts on barren land with no water or electricity. There are 13 homes and Pennies for Partnerships will be sponsoring this community in an ongoing effort to provide monthly supply of rice with an effort to work more closely with the families in teaching them sack gardening in hopes to develop some self reliant ways for providing increased nutrition to their families. This is a community which has been displaced from the Bhopal Disaster caused by a pesticide leak. These families live on less than a dollar a day and collect plastic for recycling as an income. So keeping with a rounded environmental mission we are assisting a community devastated by an environmental hazard and focusing on those who conduct work which is environmentally conscious. There are however many many more families I have come across that I would like to bring into the fold of Pennies for Partnerships as we are able to increase the funding and commit to ongoing deliveries.

We have currently scheduled with the Tibetan Organic Farmers the next several months of delivery and our team is polished and ready to manage the operations of the distribution. We will also conduct an evaluation in time to measure the effectiveness of the gifts you give and the efforts we put forth to empower the people to lift into a better quality of life and at least experience less hunger in their days.

MORE to Come in the next few days with about the Golden Partners of Generosity who make it possible to touch the lives of people in need.

Thanks to the Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas who believed in the project and accepted it as part of their philanthropic work and thanks to ALL of you who from day one in 2008 compassionately gave your penny jars, beer cans, clothing, and financial contributions. Without you none of this would have been possible.

I thank you from the deepest place in my heart for your generosity and care for others. To me you have also given a gift, and that is the joy of being your messenger of giving.

I look forward to the next year and to the continued growth of Pennies for Partnerships and support from you for others. Let’s Feed Some People while at the Same Time help support those who are making it a safer and cleaner environment for generations to come.

For more information regarding the past year you can visit the blog posts in the side bar.

Additionally if you or anyone you know is interested in supporting the ongoing efforts of pennies for Partnerships please remember Sharing is Caring and you can spread the link on your social networks as all that has been generated to date has been accomplished through networks of friends like you who care. Feel free to forward the email blog or find us on facebook under Pennies for Partnerships and follow our cause and then share it with your network.

To make a tax deductible donation through PayPal look for the Donate button on the blog


or email me at

Also if you are interested in doing a fund raiser there are some great ideas others have presented so your creativity is a real asset to the project. People have fund raised through:

Service projects

Penny Drives

Pledges of Goals for a Ton of rice asking network friends to donate

Portions of sales contributed

What’s to Come:

In the next blog I will tell you of some amazing people I have met in my journey who have creatively generated funding opportunities that are making a great impact on the project.

Thank you again for a wonderful year raising funds to feed the poor.

Much Appreciation,

Leann Halsey

Director- Pennies for Partnerships (TCIA)