Providing service for the community creates a feeling inside a person that can’t be replaced by anything else. When you help others you are not only committing a service for them, but also for yourself. This year in January I participated in an event that takes place at my school every year on Martin Luther King Day. Classmen of all ages sign up to volunteer packing boxes of various different types of supplies for under privileged families and children in the city. Performing this service was not only a great lesson for me, but also for the elementary and middle school students that I got to work with and teach them about the true meaning of helping your society.
When signing up for this act of service you have to be committed to giving up anywhere between one to two hours of your Saturday before you could switch shifts with another student and return home. When you get to the school you are put straight to work. The adults in charge send you to one of many stations: canned foods, dry foods, school supplies, baby supplies, or craft making. When I got there I was assigned to craft making; which I was happy about because I got to work with elementary and middle school kids.
Now, kids their age are not naïve, they know service is “good”, but sometimes that might be all they know. As I was helping these kids create makeshift scarfs, color picture frames, and write heart warming letters to these under privileged families I made sure I let them know just how much this will mean to these people. Just a letter saying, “I hope you had a wonderful holiday!” or “Keep on smiling!” could brighten one sad child’s day in half of a second. Many of the children I worked with smiled from ear to ear when I told them how much their beautiful artwork would mean to a child just their age. Unfortunately, one of the struggles I did face were adolescent teenagers, aka rude middle school kids, who complained about their mom’s forcing them to go. To some of them nothing I said mattered and they would just laugh when I walked away and pretend they were cool; but to others, when I explained to them just how much the things they were doing would mean to a family and then told them to put themselves in that families shoes, their mindsets changed immediately.
When signing up for this act of service you are only really required to work between one two hours and I ended up staying there for about five or six. I got caught up in so many different stations that I didn’t want to leave. After crafts I helped put canned foods into boxes, I helped sort out baby supplies, and I put dry foods into categories of pastas, cereals, and snacks like crunch bars and gummies. I was having so much fun and simply didn’t want to leave, so after a long day of sorting and carrying heavy boxes back and forth I proceeded to help fill the vans with all of the materials that we had. Once the cafeteria had been cleaned out I took a deep breath and looked at my watch. I had been there for six hours and it felt like maybe two.
As I drove home from the school I couldn’t believe how long I had been there. My mom said the same thing to me when I walked into the house and I told her I was having such a good time that I LOST track of time. The feeling that I got from performing service was unreal. Just knowing that I was helping underprivileged families have food and supplies to help them get through their year was the most rewarding feeling in the world. Also, knowing that I was supplying children with school supplies made me feel like I was helping their education grow. What this act of service taught me was that not only was I helping others, I was also helping myself. By providing others with things that they couldn’t provide for themselves it made me feel like I was making a huge difference in the community. The best feeling in the world is knowing that you can make even the smallest difference whether it’s providing someone with a full meal, or even just a letter that says “Keep on smiling!”