While some teens spent the summer playing video games or studying for the SATs, 15-year-old Sammamish resident Annika Vuppala found a positive way to impact her community over summer break.
Vuppala has put her teaching, baking, and arts and craft skills to good use by fundraising for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Vuppala chose to support teen cancer research with her project.
“I feel like [teen cancer research] is such an important cause to support, because as a teen, I can’t imagine that someone our age would be going through that,” Vuppala said.
She has so far raised $1,139 by organizing two different activities — an educational program called the Vocab Cab and a bake sale that was branded as Rakhis n’ Cookies, which celebrated the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan.
Vocab Cab was a month-long program for elementary school children to learn vocabulary over the summer. Vuppala created the curriculum and advertised it to parents as a fun, no-cost program held over Zoom for their kids.
Although it was completely free to attend, Vuppala used it to spread awareness of her fundraising campaign and collected donations through her website. She was able to raise $420 through this effort.
However, Vuppala found greater success when she celebrated Raksha Bandhan, a festival centered around sharing your love with family and friends. One feature of this festival is the giving of rakhis — bracelets that signify the bond between brother and sister. Sisters typically give rakhis to their brothers, who then gift their sisters sweets in return. Nowadays, rakhis do not have to be given exclusively to brothers.
“You can also give [rakhis] to cousins or anyone you love and appreciate,” Vuppala said.
For Rakhis n’ Cookies, Vuppala sold handmade origami lotus rakhis and cookies dubbed “Annikies,” thereby honoring the traditions of the holiday while channeling the proceeds to a good cause.
“I love making crafts and I thought this would be a way to not only do something that I love, but also to help others,” said Vuppala.
Although she was uncertain if people would be interested in her lotus rakhis and cookies, she made dozens of them and promoted her cause online before selling them at Sammamish’s Apna Bazaar grocery store. Vuppala set up a table in front of the store from Aug. 4 to 10.
She quickly sold out of both items. Although her initial goal was to raise $500, she completely surpassed it, raising $719 through selling rakhis and cookies.
Vuppala was touched by the help and kindness she witnessed, from complete strangers making donations to her own parents cheering her on.
“I was blown away. I never expected people to support my cause this much and appreciate all the hard work I put into it,” she said.
Vuppala is passionate about fundraising and wants to continue aiding teen cancer research in the future.
You can read more about Annika Vuppula’s fundraising project on her website.