January 20, 2010
Tossing, catching, unfolding, placing upright, then pushing them down the round metal rollers, we worked. Stretching, placing, and stabbing the boxes in repetition, we worked. Placed side by side, stacked top to bottom, the boxes rolled on down the metal rollers, all in a single, organized file. Grabbing, lifting, stacking, and wrapping them in elastic sheets starting from the top, to the middle then to the bottom a dozen times, we worked. Repeating this process for two hours may have seemed boring and repetitive for some, but for me it was fun; and judging by the sounds of laughter and chattering echoing throughout the big, organized room lined with steel shelves and packed with cartons of food, I was not the only one who felt this way. This is the daily preparations and operations of St. Mary’s food bank.

During the summer, my sister and I become participants in the Phoenix College’s ACE program. One summer they took us to St. Mary’s to help out as volunteers. This was a new experience for all of us. While listening to what we were going to do and what was expected of us for the next two hours, my imagination started drawing a dreary picture of what this new experience would be like. I despised the thought of doing such menial tasks.
Shortly though, the dreary thoughts were replaced by pleasant ones. We started out with getting boxes ready for the food to be placed in. While I taped and prepared the boxes, I suddenly became aware of a warm, bubbly feeling in my chest. I then realized that this is what it felt like to give back, to be doing something for those less fortunate. Giving, this single word encompassed thousands of feelings. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction and content.

This feeling seemed to catch on as I saw that even the most spoiled, snotty and bratty of my classmates were actually working together; seeing them happily helping out was a shock to me. They did not even complain, which to me was even more shocking. I have now seen with my own eyes that selfish people do have soft hearts and are capable of being kind to those less fortunate than themselves.

With all the laughter and chit-chat going on, two hours quickly passed by without us noticing the time. It seemed we had just started and then it all ended too quickly. All too soon it was time to head back to Phoenix College. We wanted to spend more time volunteering, but no matter how much we pleaded for more time, to stay longer, we were still taken back because we had to attend another class in half an hour. Though we helped for two hours, I wished we could have stayed for another two hours. This way we could help even more families in need.
For many of us, this was our first experience with providing any kind of community service. It was an eye opening experience for me and I really enjoyed helping out and relished this new warm, bubbly feeling of giving back.
When the opportunity arose to join the group of volunteers known as Interact, I quickly joined. So did my friend and my sister. I found myself once again in the big, organized roomed with the cartons stacked on the shelves. This time, we got to pack the food into the boxes and then sent them off to be distributed to needy families.
I imagined us three as the Three Musketeers helping the less fortunate families. This got me really excited and a thrill ran down my spine which made me very hyper and I started tossing and stacking more and more boxes until the two other musketeers shouted for me to stop. Then I started the cycle all over again.
My experiences volunteering at St. Mary’s are very memorable.

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