Spark Newsmagazine


Spark Newsmagazine


Spark Newsmagazine


Youth In Philanthropy students hold their first Culture Potluck

Students of West Chester and Liberty Township’s Youth In Philanthropy organization took a new approach to bring together members of the community and raise money for a good cause.
Ria Malhi

Students, parents, and community members of all cultures and backgrounds gathered together on Tuesday, Nov. 14 for Youth In Philanthropy’s (YIP) first-ever Culture Potluck. The event was put together by the student led organization and was held in the Mulhauser Barn in West Chester. The purpose of the event was to “join YIP for a delicious experience with food from all cultures,” as stated on the flyers used to advertise for the evening.


“This event is a culture potluck just to bring the community and different cultures together to show their food and just enjoy around Thanksgiving time,” YIP Chair and Lakota West student Zahra Wasanwala told Spark. “It’s a good time to get people together because they are already in the giving mood, and it’s just to embrace your culture and try different cultures’ foods.” 


The potluck, planned by the high school students in YIP, allows for the students to donate money to different organizations within the West Chester and Liberty Township areas. 


“The ultimate goal is that money we raise through this fundraiser will be donated back to the community to help out,” Wasanwala told Spark. “Our main goal is to raise money through our own fundraisers and then all the money we raise throughout the year we donate back to local nonprofits in the West Chester and Liberty area. For most of our nonprofits, we try to aim for the ones that are youth-oriented like Boys and Girls Club and Edge Teen Center: places that help out the youth in the West Chester area.”


Like many other students, Wasanwala was able to share her culture with the community through the event. 

“I am Pakistani; I was born in America but my parents are both from Pakistan and I brought mini bite-sized samosas (deep fried snacks stuffed with a filling usually of potatoes, onions, and peas),” Wasanwala said. “I grew up eating them and I feel like it is a good entry dish to Pakistani food, so I felt like it was something most people would like.”


The event allowed for people of multiple cultures to come together and for attendees to try a variety of dishes and desserts prepared by the students in YIP.The cost of admission was $20 for regular entry, but those who brought a dish or silverware paid $10. This gave members of the community a chance to contribute to the potluck. 


Alvina Richard, a student from Ursuline Academy, believes that YIP is a great way for students to meet others their age and give back to their community. 


“It is honestly a really good experience because I feel like I get to connect with a lot of other people,” Richard told Spark. “Especially since I go to Ursuline, I do not know a lot of people in Lakota so I feel like it is a good community.” 


As one of the 50 students within the group, Richard explained how the students run these events. 


“Everything is student-run,” Richard said. “The adults sit in at our meetings and they help us, but they do not intrude if they think we are going in the wrong direction or if they think something is not going to work. Instead they try to advise us.” 


Although the club is primarily run by the students, it still has help from several advisors. 


“The advisor role means that we represent the parents’ 501(c)(3) organization, which is the Northern Cincinnati Foundation where all the funds and everything are held,” YIP Advisor Matthew King told Spark. “There are rules and things like that for managing a fund and being able to keep your 501(c)(3). The moderator’s job really is to make sure that we do not put any of those rules or laws at risk as we maintain our 501(c)(3).””


A 501(c)(3) organization is a non-profit organization that files as tax-exempt. 


King spoke specifically about the role of a moderator. 


“We are pretty hands off most of the time. We make sure that we have the facilities, a calendar, and a schedule for the year, but we let the kids do most of it,” King said. 


King mentioned the students will come up with new ideas to raise money and depending

on “if they work,” they will decide to continue with the event in the future. 


“The one thing I always emphasize with the students is that we are not event planners; that is a means to an end. We are here to try to raise as much money as we can so that we can give it away and do some good,” King said. “If we put on a fantastic event, have tons of people there, and everybody has a great time but we break even, we did not do what we were setting out to do. This is about trying to raise money for a good cause and that is the heart of the people that are running it and that try to instill in all of the students that come through.”


YIP made $500 from the event to support local charities. 

Ria Malhi
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