Teen Refugee Collects Thousands of Coats for Charity—With a Little Help From Mark Cuban
Anyone who has experienced poverty knows first-hand how difficult it can be to find a way out. For some who are fortunate to have made the transition, the desire to lift up those who are still struggling can become a big part of their lives.
When 18-year-old Ashis Dhakal came to Utah from a refugee camp in Nepal, he knew he had been given a great opportunity. Although he was bullied at his Salt Lake City school, the principles of service and generosity that are an integral part of his Hindu faith became the cornerstone of a long-term goal to repay his good fortune.
A few years ago, while looking for tables for his work at KFC, Dhakal met a homeless man for whom he had great empathy. Understanding very well the difference in life between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” once he learned the history of man, he was inspired to help.
One of the most obvious needs that Dhakal observed while talking to the man was clean, useful clothing. With that in mind, she launched her first Ashis Collects Clothes campaign, in 2019.
Dhakal’s good works won him the attention of TODAY’S SHOWHoda Kolb, who took the teenager as an apprentice.
“My biggest ‘why’ in my life is that when I was a little kid, going through poverty, I was in the same shoes as them right now,” he said, explaining his drive to Kolb. in a recent interview. “I have a house. Now I have a computer. I have a phone. But think about it: those children are still suffering. What I can do is improve others so that, you know, they can give back to their community.”
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Recognizing Dhakal’s enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit, it seemed only natural that Kolb would hook his protégé with one of his all-time heroes. Shark tankBillionaire philanthropist Mark Cuban. During their online meeting, Cuban gave Dhakal a challenge: collecting 575 coats for people in need.
While the task was initially daunting, Dhakal took advantage of some of Cuban’s advice to create a winning strategy. After partnering with the Utah outreach organization Serve refugees, Dhakal was able to accumulate 3,000 coat donations in a matter of days (so TODAY parent company NBC offered matching donations).
Cuban was impressed and said TODAY: “You’re setting an example, Ashis, it’s not about connections … It’s about how hard you are willing to work to achieve something.”
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Dhakal is undoubtedly willing to do whatever it takes to build a better world. Wherever your entrepreneurial spirit takes you in the future, helping others is sure to guide you along the way.
(GET TOGETHER Dhakal in TODAY’s video below).
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