UT-Austin freshman sells greeting cards for a cause

Zoe Tzanis

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the March 23 issue of The Daily Texan.

Standing in the corner of an operating room in India in 2018, Anusha Dabak watched as her aunt administered anesthesia to a patient for surgery. A vegetable vendor who had been hit by a truck, he could only afford treatment in a low-income clinic. 

“You could see how scared (he was and) how much fear he was in about the cost,” neuroscience freshman Dabak said. “Unaffordable health care is a raging issue everywhere, but I had not seen it firsthand. That just kind of opened my eyes.”

Dabak decided to blend her passions for art and helping others into a singular project called “My Giving,” launched in the summer of 2018. The project provides financial assistance for medical procedures by selling hand-drawn greeting cards and donating 100% of the profits to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen.

“When you are involved with the designing element, the marketing, the talking … it definitely helps you to think more about the cause,” Dabak said.

In high school, Dabak said she always enjoyed art classes and would often make birthday, holiday and thank-you cards for friends and family. Nursing freshman Gaby Montenegro said she has received many handmade gifts from Dabak over their seven years of friendship.

“For all of her close friends, she always handmakes them something,” Montenegro said. “I know she puts the same amount of work in(to) the cards that she makes.”

Montenegro said she’s seen Dabak’s artistic ability grow from a hobby to an agent for change, and she encourages anyone who can to get involved.

“Take the time to spend what would be the amount for a cup of coffee at Starbucks and support a cause,” Montenegro said. “You'll get a card out of it that's beautiful, and you could probably bring up someone else’s level of joy as well.” 

Customers can purchase the cards by emailing or direct messaging Dabak on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

After volunteering at her local hospital in Allen, Texas, during her senior year of high school, Dabak shared My Giving with her volunteer mentor Sandra Torres, who helped her direct the funds toward patients who needed financial aid for treatment.

“She never missed a Saturday in the breast cancer center,” Torres said. “She actually donated the money from (My Giving) to the breast center specifically.”

After her first year of selling cards, Dabak said she donated more than $700 to patients in need of financial aid for medical procedures at the center.  

Now, she said she wants to expand the project and donate to hospitals in Austin and countries abroad.

“I do really want to be able to send the money to developing countries like India, (which) was my original intention,” Dabak said. “Because of COVID, unfortunately, it's been really difficult finding those people.”

After her aunt died in 2018, Dabak said she was unable to reconnect with the hospital in India where she originally wanted to send the proceeds of her project.

Although she hopes to eventually help those in need around the world, Dabak said she will continue to focus on fighting health care inequality in her area. 

“I feel like this is the least I can do in memory of her,” Dabak said. “Without her, I never would have been able to really get to know the issue. It really helps you think about what you're doing and why you're doing it.”