'When you go under a flyover in Mumbai at night, you will see many underprivileged people sleeping there. You get the best smiles when you distribute gifts, food packets or blankets.'
Actor Karan Wahi's noble cause.
Karan Wahi has become a Santa Claus for the poor in Mumbai, thanks to his initiative called Spread a Smile.
"We see so many beggars, street children, at signals. The main reason they ask for money is to buy food. So give them edible items like food packets, biscuits and chocolates instead of money. That way, it can be consumed directly. With money, no one is sure where it is going," he explains.
And it's just as simple as carrying an edible item in your bag or car.
"(Actor) Rithvik Dhanjani and I started this initiative but our friends like Suyyash Rai and Kishwer Merchant and many others have also joined in," he says.
"I have stopped playing cards during Diwali because if I win, I will use it for a noble cause. But what if I lose? Last year, at a Diwali party, I kept a box on a table and told everyone to put Rs 50-100 after they win each game. I collected around Rs 1,63,000. I think we fed some 9,000 people!" he exclaims.
How did they come up with the name Spread a Smile?
"When you go under a flyover in Mumbai at night, you will see many underprivileged people sleeping there. You get the best smiles when you distribute gifts, food packets or blankets. Hence, 'Spread a smile,'' he says.
'We distribute things during every festival, including Christmas. We don't wait for Santa Claus but we become somebody else's Santa."
Last year, the team added sanitary items for women on their list.
The actor says the aim of the initiative is to provide the underprivileged with food, clothing and basic needs rather than money.
On the professional front, Wahi is busy with Comedy Nights Bachao and will be hosting the latest season of Indian Idol.