Tavisha’s Helping Hands 15-year-old Tavisha Kochhar is a Grade 10 student from Sullivan Heights Secondary, who has proven to be a role model for the community with her organization, Tavisha’s Helping Hands.
Age is no barrier for this year’s youngest winner of Surrey Board of Trade’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards. 15-year-old Tavisha Kochhar is a Grade 10 student from Sullivan Heights Secondary, who has proven to be a role model for the community with her organization, Tavisha’s Helping Hands. Since its inception, Tavisha has managed to donate over $9,000 to various organizations, including Red Cross Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, BC Cancer Foundation, and Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Fundraising since the age of 11, Tavisha’s organization was born as a result of her desire to help combat 2017’s B.C. wildfires, “We were watching the news and seeing people lose their homes. It was horrible. Wanting to help, I made and decorated pencil holders out of recycled tin cans and started selling them. I got a lot of support from the community and we’ve never looked back.” Tavisha then went on to fundraise through even more hand-made creations such as lanterns made from pop cans, flower vases made from beer bottles, lights made using wine bottles, and self-watering planters built from pop bottles.
Alongside stunning art created from recyclables, Tavisha’s most recent hand-made effort includes hundreds of face masks that she made to raise funds for charitable organizations. Given that her organization’s key pillar is saving the environment, Tavisha mentions that one of the drivers behind making the masks was to deter people from using disposable masks, which leads to substantial waste that does not break down. Additionally, affordability was at top of mind for Tavisha, “I noticed that handmade masks were being sold for upwards of $25, which was crazy in the middle of a pandemic. People have lost jobs and are struggling to put food on the table.” Tavisha’s masks sell for $5-$7 and her buyers range from local associates such as Red FM, Safeway, MLA Harry Bains and MLA Rachna Singh to Canada’s top margarine company in Quebec, Becel, for which she produced 200 masks.
When it comes to deciding which charity or cause to focus on, Tavisha’s decision is solely dependent on need. When she just started out, Tavisha chose BC Children’s hospital after seeing her best friend donated hair for children with cancer. Upon researching deeper, she discovered a significant need of resources for those with disabilities and won the hearts of many by fundraising for a facility designed for the activities of physically disabled children. Tavisha further learned of Make-A-Wish at school, through her teacher’s fundraising efforts. The BC Cancer Foundation spoke out to her due to compelling statistics she saw on social media. Finally, highly pressing issues such as last year’s Australian wildfire outbreak connected her to Red Cross. Her next big project will surround raising funds to help with the COVID-19 situation in India.
Amidst leading such a noble organization and being a student, Tavisha admits that it does get hectic at times. Aside from her community involvement, she also prides herself on excelling as a competitive swimmer, “Sometimes, I’m up at 4:00am for practice and go through an entire day of school, followed by another practice.” When she gets a chance, Tavisha enjoys winding down by catching up on some much-needed sleep, playing with her dog, Teddy, and indulging in cooking some delicious stir-fry. However, despite such a busy schedule, Tavisha still manages to carve out time on the weekend for homework and house chores to help her parents. “Nothing would be possible without my parents; this is all just because of their support. I have always been very family-oriented, and my parents are my biggest inspiration,” emphasizes Tavisha.
Evidently, Tavisha’s commitment and passion has not gone unnoticed. She has received an abundance of recognition from the community for her efforts, including appreciation from various charities, political leaders, and her school. The Shakti Youth Leader Award and the Violet Richardson Award honoring Young Women for Volunteer Action are just a couple of milestones amongst a growing list of accomplishments. Tavisha’s heart is full of gratitude for the community’s support, which has been overwhelming.
For her peers who would like to get involved, Tavisha points out that community involvement does not mean donating money or starting something from the ground up. It can also just equate to donating time by volunteering at the food bank, for example. Helping others does not always entail going too far. There are many non-profit organizations locally – close to home – that are looking for volunteers. In terms of her future plans, Tavisha hopes to attend medical school and step foot in the field of gynecology or optometry. Throughout her journey, she will continue to work towards serving the community, with the main motive to save the environment. “The statistics on water quality, ocean quality, and air pollution are concerning. Since the surge in production and manufacturing, our climate has been going downhill. It is our responsibility to preserve what we have and make it better for future generations.”
Undoubtedly, Tavisha is a testament to the wonders of sheer hard work, dedication, and, simply put, an undying love to do good and help others. Her ability to balance academics, a competitive swimming career and impactful community work is exemplary. Tavisha’s community involvement and accomplishments are a beacon of hope that the world is in caring hands, Tavisha’s Helping Hands.