When 12-year-old Hassan Azharkarimh began volunteering with Common Roots he realized that people in his community do not all have access to adequate food.
Now, the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School student is inspired to support the food shelf in his community. During the holidays, Hassan and his mother Nausheen went door-to-door handing out Common Roots program flyers, working to raise money for the organic food Common Roots will grow for the South Burlington Food Shelf this year.
Common Roots is a local nonprofit that connects farmers, educators, youth and families in building a sustainable future through food education and service programs. For 11 years, it has grown organic food that is offered to families who have been identified by school social workers through its Community Food Share Program.
Along with continuing to grow organic food and offering food demonstrations with recipes prepared at the Wheeler House, Common Roots plans to offer an evening a week for South Burlington Food Shelf participants to learn how to grow food.
This food education will take place at the Growing Gardens, Growing Kids site at the Farm at South Village where Common Roots tends to its 48 raised beds.
“Before I volunteered for Common Roots, I wasn’t that attracted to community service,” said Hassan “But then I realized that some people in my community don’t have food and it’s winter. When I got involved, I felt like I really made a change and helped more people get healthy food.”
For Hassan and his mom, getting involved was simple. They decided to fold Common Roots into one of their yearly traditions to raise money and awareness for the South Burlington Food Shelf.
“It’s our tradition that every Christmas, we give out ornaments and some candies to all of our neighbors in little gift bags,” said Nausheen.
This year, they included flyers explaining that Common Roots had been chosen for Patagonia Action Works, where non-profit donations are matched by Patagonia.
After successfully raising funds for the food Common Roots will donate to the South Burlington Food Shelf, Hassan is inspired to continue his community service at school and at home. He wants to introduce a community service club at his school to encourage his friends to help out, too.
“Anything is community service, even small actions,” Hassan said. “Even smiling at someone is community service, because you’re making their day. Community service is anything that’s nice and helpful to someone else.”
“I have seen Hassan grow,” Nausheen said. “He’s become a very positive citizen for his community. Common Roots is a great organization for kids. You can’t teach kids empathy; you can only show them. The benefit of community service goes two ways: Hassan’s helping out the community, and he grows with it too…I’m so happy that Common Roots gave us that chance to grow together and to be a part of the community.”