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High schoolers working to make a difference


Shreeya Moolamalla and a group of committed high school students are also working to make a difference for youth in our community through the HandinHand organization.

The seed for HandinHand was planted in Shreeya’s freshman year at Mesilla Valley Christian School during spiritual emphasis week. A speaker at the school shared what it was like to grow up with facial deformities and his experience being raised in a Native American household as a victim of child abuse and neglect.

The speech sparked something in Shreeya.

“His experience made me open to the fact that people in this world are going through unimaginable things," she said.

Armed with a newfound passion for service, Shreeya decided to organize projects centered around making an impact in the lives of children.

“Children can’t control their educational experiences, abuse or being born into poverty,” she said.

Her ideas quickly gained momentum and Shreeya realized she could turn service projects into an actual organization, creating the HandinHand program, with a mission of building the leadership skills of participating teens to children in Doña Ana County by fundraising and advocating for neurodiversity, health and wellbeing, financial security and more.

“We seek to make a difference in the lives of the children we meet,” Shreeya said.

Shreeya asked her friends to join her on her journey of service. She appointed a governing body and took her idea to the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico (CFSNM). Although HandinHand did not have enough funds to set up a permanent endowment, the program closely aligned with initiatives the foundation had already undertaken.

“Our team and our board of directors are committed to cultivating the next generation of young philanthropists,” said CFSNM President and CEO Terra Winter. “By creating a designated fund at the foundation for HandinHand, we are empowering youth to get involved in bettering their community and developing future leaders, board members and advocates."

HandinHand members have already executed many service projects throughout our community. One of the first projects, a book drive for Jardin de los Niños childcare program, added more than 50 books to the organization’s library.

HandinHand also hosted a fall festival for foster children through the Bair Foundation, led a reader’s theater for La Casa, Inc. domestic violence program and volunteered to tutor and play sports with Boys & Girls Club of Las Cruces members.

Most recently, HandinHand hosted a science day at Valley View Elementary School, teaching students how to make strawberry DNA and elephant toothpaste.

As Shreeya nears graduation, she is actively planning how HandinHand can continue making a difference when she is double majoring in neuroscience and business at Vanderbilt University beginning this fall.

“I will not physically be in Las Cruces, I am still dedicated to supporting the program and helping to instill a passion for service in local teens,” Shreeya said.

For more information, call 575-521-4794. Visit cfsnm.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/list and communityfoundationofsouthernnewmexico.org.