Helping out a some spectacular kids

October 31, 2010
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Riinng Riiing. Groggy from a lack of sleep, I turned off the alarm and rolled out of bed on a Saturday morning at 6:30 am. Walking into the bathroom to brush my teeth, I looked wistfully back at my bed. It just seemed so warm and inviting compared to the cold, bitter winter morning that I now had to face. While I washed my face, I thought of all my lucky friends who got to sleep in, while I had to wake up early to go tutor kids who were academically behind their peers.

Stupid kids. Why should I spend my wonderful Saturday mornings helping you? It’s so stupid that my parents are making me do this. No other caring parent would force their child to wake up so early on a Saturday morning just to help others. My friends are so lucky.
Arriving at the school, I slammed the car door and quickly jogged inside. I went to the cafeteria along with some other volunteers who had also come to help out the kids. I noticed that all the other volunteers seemed so happy to be here at 8:00 am. I wondered if I was missing something.
One by one, all the kids who came to get assistance shuffled shyly into the cafeteria. They were all in different grades and ages. As the kids looked at us, I realized that they too had to wake up at 6:30 am to come learn. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this for them was completely optional. For them, the desire to catch up to their peers surpassed the desire to sleep in on a Saturday. I was completely blown away by their determination, and I immediately regretted complaining about waking up so early.
Walking into the classroom that I had been assigned to, I encountered three kids who I would be helping. Their names were Abigail, Sam, and Lauren. They were all in 3rd grade, and they didn’t quite understand how to multiply or divide. I sat down on the tiny chair and took out a pencil. Carefully, I wrote down each step and talked to them in a patient, slow manner. An hour later, I realized that all three kids knew how to multiply and divide perfectly.
As we were about to go, the three kids looked up at me and told me that I was their role model. They told me that I was wonderful, and I was the best tutor/friend that they could ever ask for. Their kindness brought back memories of how mean my thoughts were this morning. I couldn’t believe that I had thought like that of them. Moved by their words, I started to cry. The kids were surprised by my tears and quickly dropped their papers to give me a big hug.

It was being surrounded by their love and appreciation that I realized what volunteering really meant. It wasn’t something you did because your parents forced you to or because you had to. It was really about giving back to your community. It wasn’t about getting paid or getting an award. It was about being able to look back and say to yourself I made a difference in the world today. It doesn’t matter if you have to wake up at 6:30 am every morning to help kids. It matters that you really cared enough to do so.

Now I go back every Saturday morning to help out the kids. I go without a single complain or a nasty attitude. And now I know why I wake up so early and spend my whole mornings there at the school. It’s because I want to make a difference in the world, and I have simply by helping out a few, spectacular kids.

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Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm
I'm glad you enjoy it. As you've discovered, it's rewarding work. It also teaches you patience and helps you find different solutions to solving problems. I like this.  
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