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Take Five: Meet Karina Tarsadia, Sage Hill School sophomore and philanthropist


When you imagine what a philanthropist looks like, you might not think of a high school sophomore – but Sage Hill School sophomore Karina Tarsadia has created a nonprofit to help other local students, and she will be recognized on November 19 at the 35th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards program. The event, produced by the Orange County Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, began in 1986 and has since recognized more than 1,000 honorees. This year, Karina, 16, will be honored as their Outstanding Youth for her Backpack Project, which she launched last year after service trips to Cambodia, India and Africa inspired her to help others. I caught up with Karina to learn more. 

Take Five Karina Tarsadia

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Courtesy of Sage Hill School

Karina Tarsadia

Q: Congratulations for being honored at the 35th Annual National Philanthropy Day Orange County! How did you hear about this award, and what was your immediate reaction?

A: I heard about the award because someone from National Philanthropy called me first. I was very thrilled and shocked that I was an honoree. I was so excited to be considered for this award. 

Q: Can you tell me more about the Backpack Project?

A: The goal of the project is to give away backpacks and to bring the community together. During last year’s event, we were able to give away 5,000 backpacks to students in need in the Anaheim and Santa Ana area. Unfortunately, coronavirus stopped us from having our annual event this year. But thankfully, we were able to adjust it into a drive-through event. Through this drive-through, we were able to give away 15,000 backpacks. I was fortunate to be able to work with the most amazing partners, and I know I would not have been able to do it without them.

Q: What has been your biggest hurdle in creating and growing this project, and what has been the biggest reward?

A: The biggest challenge to date was trying to figure out how we would adapt the event while following COVID-19 guidelines. Last year’s event was held at Angels Stadium, with lots of different activities throughout the day. I knew that an event like this would not have been possible this year. I also knew that it was necessary to get our backpacks out to the students. Through countless research and planning, we finally decided on a drive-through event, which in turn allowed us to increase the number of schools we worked with. Though COVID-19 presented us with a challenge, it turned out to be our biggest reward because we were able to reach even more students this year.

Q: What are your plans for the rest of high school – and beyond?

A: As of right now, we only do backpacks and supplies for students. However, we are looking into doing a Christmas toy drive and supporting students and families at different times of the year. I also would love to expand our reach with different projects. For plans outside of the project, I hope to continue working hard in school. I am so thankful to be a student at Sage Hill since they truly emphasize service and promote service learning, which allows me to do service with my peers. When I’m not in school or working on the backpack project, I like to spend time hanging out with my friends and family. I also really enjoy spending time with my dog. 

Q: I understand that you were inspired by traveling in India, Cambodia and Africa. Can you tell me about those trips and what you think of traveling and where you would like to visit next?

A: During the service trip that I have taken, the thing always stands out to me are the children. They are always around the same age as me, and so I felt this connection towards them. During the trips, we would do many different activities, but one of my favorites was doing math problems with the students. Though there was a language barrier, we were still able to communicate since math is universal. The next service trip I would love to take is to Vietnam. 

Editor’s Note: The 35th Annual National Philanthropy Day Awards program takes place on Thursday, Nov. 19 from 12-1 p.m. and will be held virtually. To register, go here. National Philanthropy Day began in Orange County in 1986 and is now celebrated in hundreds of locations around the world.


Amy Senk is a longtime resident of Corona del Mar and a regular contributor to St News Newport.

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