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My Motivation

The entire group of Interact club members climbed down the stairs of the bus in a long procession. We had arrived at St. Mary’s Food Bank. It was my sophomore year, and all I needed was three service hours to complete my assignment from my infamously tough history teacher.

“I want you guys to go and help your community,” was one of his many excuses for this forced labor.

I was just going to pack some boxes and be done with it. Those were the thoughts racing through my mind. However, that was the beginning and over a short period of time I discovered what it truly meant to give back.

My service hours had flown by; however, I did not feel any different. But a few days later my family and I were driving by the food bank and saw a winding line that stretched to the door. I never realized the amount of families that were in need, so I decided I could probably spare a little more time.

The next Interact event I participated in was the Paint O’ Thon. One Saturday, a group of students went to the house of an elderly woman and tidied the outside by painting and whatever various activities needed to be done. We busied ourselves with painting, gardening, and knocking down the occasional wall (Well, the lady asked us to). Afterwards, we met the owner of the home. She was the sweetest person I have ever met. She kept thanking us, and her smile was contagious. My heart softened a little more to the community service idea.

A few weeks went by. I was just far too busy to consider signing up for another event, but Halloween rolled around and a friend somehow convinced me to join her at Watkins Shelter in Phoenix to serve food and throw a small party for the homeless children staying there. I had not made any plans, so I grudgingly committed to going. I discovered when we arrived that Watkins was a women and family shelter. While serving food, I noticed the line never seemed to end, and I could not comprehend why so many individuals were without a place to simply call home. With every face I saw, I knew that behind it was a heartbreaking story of how a life had somehow steered off path.

Then the families came to eat. I was astonished when huge brown eyes twinkled up at me and asked for a plate. When I was that young girl’s age I may not have had everything I wanted, but I had a roof over my head and a meal on the table. I wonder if this child would remember her experience and how long she would remain in this situation. She disappeared in a flash, but I could not shake that gnawing feeling growing inside me.

The time for the children’s party had come about. The volunteers stuffed candy in Halloween themed bags for distribution to the eager children, and then we assisted them with festive crafts. At one point, a girl who looked around nine entered the room precariously holding a small, curly haired baby boy. She stared longingly at the fun and then ran up to me.

“Hold my brother, please,” was the only thing she rushed out before pushing him into my arms and prancing away.

Frantically, I looked around, not sure what I was supposed to do, and then he made a barely audible noise. I glanced down, and I could not take my eyes away. Innumerable feelings washed over me. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. He was the type you would expect to see in diaper commercials, not in plain homeless shelters. A baby belonged in a nursery with soft music playing, not in a stranger’s arms at a Halloween party. I realized then that there were babies across the nation who would fall asleep in a strange place that would never be home. This world is full of suffering people that somehow fell by the side of life’s road, and no one helped them up. That is what community organizations were doing. They were trying to get people on their feet. I may not be able to get this baby everything he deserved, but I could make differences in as many lives as possible. Even if I never received a thank you, that innocent baby was all the motivation I needed.





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