Neetal Oza grew up in a family that embraced the spirit of helping others. She remembered her family spending birthdays, holidays, and other special moments giving back to their community.
Neetal’s desire to help those in need never wavered even when she moved from her homeland in the Fiji Islands to the United States. And when her young son, Jahan, expressed a desire to help refugees at just five years old, Neetal passed down the family tradition of service when she introduced her son to volunteering. But more on that story later.
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Before becoming a volunteer at LSS, Neetal had a moving experience while volunteering at Ascension St. Vincent's Hospital. Encouraged by her husband, a doctor at the hospital, Neetal helped out during one of the hospital’s community outreach events. There, she washed the feet of the homeless, and assisted them with tying and putting on new shoes. “While I washed their feet, they told me about their life stories and about the hope they had for the future,” Neetal said as she recalled the memory.
In 2021, Neetal continued her community service journey when she began supporting refugees at Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida. She helped with setting up apartments that would house refugee families arriving in Jacksonville.
“I became aware of how raw all of this was,” Neetal said. “...how all of these families came with pretty much nothing.”
Neetal and her family continued to support the LSS mission by donating furniture and toiletries to furnish the apartments of refugee families. In addition, the Oza family collected and donated over 200 pounds of food to the LSS food pantry.
Today, the Oza family’s dedication remains steadfast. Her son, Jahan, was presented with a service award on World Refugee Day in Jacksonville for his work of providing care packages to refugee children in Jacksonville.
Jahan, according to Neetal, has challenged himself to find new ways to volunteer and serve his community. Jahan hopes to continue inspiring his friends and classmates to give back to the community. Neetal is excited to see what the future holds for her family, and the good that will be accomplished together.
The Ozas' are a testament to what one family's motivation can do to change the lives of many.
You, too, can impact your community in a positive way. Discover the many ways to support Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, including attending or sponsoring the Two Piano Journey benefit recital. 100 percent of the proceeds go to support the direct services at LSS, such as the LSS Hunger Relief program.
If you are unable to attend, you can always make a donation to contribute to the cause.
Let Neetal and her son's story inspire you to create positive change in the lives of others.