January 20, 2011
By Angel Sanchez BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
Angel Sanchez BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

In life, all we do is complain about what we don’t have, never truly grateful for what we do have. The beauty of giving back and volunteering is you can see genuine appreciation from those who have nothing.

I had the honor of participating in our school’s Interact Club. The club offers opportunities for regular students to give back to the people in Arizona. The economic downfall has left many educated and once successful people, destitute. With such an increase of people in need, Interact is always able to provide a lending hand to the community.

My experience at Andre House was eye opening. I’ve been there once when I was in sixth grade but at the time, I didn’t grasp the importance of my volunteer work. I remember a homeless woman befriended me because I reminded her of her daughter; her daughter was taken away. She stayed close to me as she ate her meal. I was serving sour cream on taco night and I recall her dipping her finger into her sour cream and putting a smudge of it on my nose. My friends mom rudely smurked and said under her breath, “don’t let people like that touch you, they’re dirty.”

I returned to Andre House this year and the soup kitchen looked all too familiar. As I quickly walked around the kitchen and dining room, I recognized everything, from the tables, food bins, lines and pianos. I was ecstatic to help, so we washed our hands, put on some gloves, and began chopping and preparing the food. All the food was donated from the supermarkets. When we were all finished preparing the food, a woman had us all stand in a circle to pray. She prayed for the people on the streets who will not be able to eat tonight and for them to live another day. She thanked us all for showing up and with an overpowering-echo of “AMEN”, we split into groups to begin the evening. Most of the homeless passed by with they’re faces to the ground, refusing to make eye contact. Some didn’t even look like they were homeless, it was sad to see. A couple were so thankful they screamed “God bless you all!” After the night was over, we walked back to the bus with a proud feeling in our hearts. My teacher said, “Before you go to bed tonight, ask yourself, what good did I do today?” The experience became addicting.

I continued to go on trips with interact to a program called Read to Me. We get there early to lay out blankets and pillows and put books all over (on tables, on floors, everywhere). One by one, the kids lined up. These kids are homeless or have struggling families with many siblings. The little girl I got was six-years-old and her name was Daisha. She grabbed a book and handed it to me. To my surprise, she snatched it back begging me to let her read it to me. She didn’t quite know how to read but the excitement in her eyes made it fun to watch. She flipped the pages of 101 Dalmatians telling me her own version to the story. Seeing all the children light up in the room from a few people volunteering to read a book and open their imaginations was truly beautiful.

After experiencing such a memorable time with down-to-earth people, it made me realize the significance of giving back. While I was sitting at home alone on the couch, I saw a Sunny D commercial. A teacher was telling the nation that if you collected 20 UPC wrappers off the labels, you would receive 20 books. It was my calling and I felt inspired! I brought it to my teacher’s attention. “We should try to collect as many as possible to donate to our preschool on campus and to the children at Read to Me. Proud but trying to contain my joy, we looked up all the requirements and began planning a week where we should buy and sell Sunny D. My teacher, and head leader of Interact Club, got other teachers involved, while we made posters and commercials. The week before Thanksgiving break, we sold cases upon cases and accumulated numerous UPC labels! The students who were for the Sunny D cause spinned signs and advertized the 50 cent orange juice bottles. It was a complete surprise to see how many sales we made in three days. We sent the labels in and are now awaiting the results of our books. It was truly a memorable feeling and I cannot wait to donate those books to the children. Education is the one thing that could help the unfortunate escape poverty. I am proud to help provide education to children in need.

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