Southington teen raises money for under-funded schools

Southington teen raises money for under-funded schools

Record-Journal
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Ishaan Patel, 13, of Southington, is founder of the non-profit Planting Pencils, Wednesday, February 3, 2016. The educational organization is dedicated to raising awareness and collecting school supplies to improve access to education in underserved parts of the world. | Dave Zajac / Record-Journal

SOUTHINGTON — Talking to Ishaan Patel, who started his own nonprofit, spent a week in New York learning about Wall Street and finances, and has future plans to build a school in India, you would think you were talking to a middle-aged, successful businessman. Here’s the fun fact: He’s only 13 years old.

Over the summer Ishaan, an eighth-grader at Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford and a Southington resident, decided to start his own organization called Planting Pencils, which helps raise money or donations of school supplies for under-funded schools around the world.

“Education is a huge thing that’s lacking around the world,” said Ishaan. “People focus on helping with the basics like food and water, but if we educate them they can supply it.”

The idea came to Ishaan after listening to his aunt, Hema Shah, and her travels. She often volunteers to help out those in need in other countries and said how many children didn’t go to school because the means weren’t available.

One trip Shah asked for school supplies which Ishaan helped to get. When Shah showed pictures of the children’s reaction, Alpa Patel, Ishaan’s mother, said she could see Ishaan was inspired to do more.

“Ishaan was really touched by it,” said Patel.

In December, Ishaan, with the help of Patel, filed to form a 501(c)3 nonprofit with the state, which should be approved within the next couple months.

On Tuesday a Zumba fundraiser was held at Kennedy Middle School for Planting Pencils. Ishaan said he was excited to be able to raise $500 from that event.

“He’s an inspiration to others,” said Sue Vitcavage, assistant principal at Kennedy Middle School.

On Friday, Ishaan is going to be recognized for all his work at the Indian Republic Day celebration in Hartford at the Legislative Office Building.

Ishaan’s hope is to “get the word out” about Planting Pencils and to try to inspire people to help others. His biggest goal is to have a school built in India for children.

“A lot of places don’t have a school nearby,” Ishaan said.

He wants to create a place where children can eat, shower, learn, and not worry about things that may be taken for granted so they can focus on education.

“He’s asking everyone else to sacrifice a little to help the world,” said Patel, who explained Ishaan refused Christmas gifts this year and asked for donations to Planting Pencils.

Even with all his accomplishments at 13 years old and a huge drive and ambition, Ishaan said he still has to be himself and have fun.

“I’m still a kid,” said Ishaan. “And I like to do kid stuff.”

fduffany@record-journal.com 203-317-2212 Twitter: @FollowingFarrah


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