EASTON, Pa. (WLVT) - Aman’s Artisan Indian Cuisine is like many restaurants right now: offering curbside pickup and waiting for the day when customers can come back inside. The restaurant in downtown Easton has a new role now: the headquarters of Lehigh Valley Sikhs, an organization born from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"One of the biggest tenets of the Sikh faith is selfless service, serving people in need," said co-organizer and Aman's co-owner Jasmeet Bansal.
"We thought we would come together as an integrated community to help others and help ourselves through this disaster," added co-organizer Hardeep Sembhi.
The organization, which includes volunteers of various faiths and races, started with a food delivery service to help those who aren’t able to shop for themselves, as well as others feeling a financial pinch. Bansal is the one person who is designated to shop for the food, using money people have donated. He said they're spending up to $2,000 a week.
Volunteers go out and drop off the bags. So far, they’ve delivered 60, and Bansal said the goal is to deliver at least 40 every week.
"Our packages are designed for a family of four or five," he said. "We have at least about two to three meals in there, ranging from breakfast to dinner.”
Mike Pichetto, owner of fellow downtown restaurant 3rd & Ferry, donated a refrigerator for Lehigh Valley Sikhs to store foods that need to stay cold.
The organization expanded its outreach by making personal protective equipment (PPE). Parents and children worked together, sometimes using fabric from some of their own clothes.
"So far, we have made about 400 masks, and we have given those out to the nurses and the volunteer, front-line volunteers, and the plan is to make many, many more of those," said Rashmeet Sangari, who leads the PPE project.
They’re also working on making face shields and printing 3-D masks. Several members of the local Sikh community work in healthcare, which makes the mission more personal.
"We need to help people whether it's a Sikh or a non-Sikh," Sangari said. "In fact, all of these handmade masks have gone to people who are from everywhere in the community. So, I feel very strongly that in these times especially, we need to show our faith and help people around us."
"I think if you look around the pandemic itself, it's not looking at where you’re coming from, which background," Sembhi said. "It is all of us together, irrespective of your faith, your culture, your color, your race."
"It's instinctual for six to jump to the forefront and help in any way they can and with the food aid and -- as it grew, the PPE project -- we just made it work," Bansal said.
The organization relies heavily on donations.
- To contribute to the Community Food Aid Fundraiser, click HERE.
- To contribute to the Personal Protective Equipment Fundraiser, click HERE.