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Such a Small Gesture This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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   Those whoknow me would never describe me as sensitive. That's why when we began ourChristian Ministry Program at school I was a bit skeptical. We were required todo 40 hours of community service working with people who had little, or wereunable to do things on their own.

Near my house is a rehabilitation centerand home for the elderly. I never paid much attention to it until it was time todo my hours. I signed up to volunteer, much to my despair. Once I got started,though, it wasn't bad. I played cards and Bingo with the residents and helpedthem get around. Other volunteers and I went shopping for the residents and Iread to them. For a few months I went there every weekend. Finally, the day camewhen I was officially done with my service hours. Little did I know this wouldalso be the day my outlook on life would change forever.

We had justreturned from shopping and the director asked me to take some items to Thomas, aquiet 47-year-old man who had been in an accident. He was unable to do anythingbut stay in bed and move around in a wheelchair occasionally. He didn't talk tomany people.

When I brought Thomas his groceries, I noticed he had a stackof wrestling movies and some wrestling paraphernalia. Since I'm an avid wrestlingfan, I asked him who his favorite wrestler was. Much to my delight he said"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who also happens to be my idol. We talkeduntil I had to leave. When I was home I remembered I had an extra poster of"Stone Cold." Without thinking, I grabbed the poster and was out thedoor.

When I got back to the center Thomas was sleeping, not because hewas tired but because he had nothing better to do. I woke him and told him I hadbrought him something. I unfolded the poster and showed it to him. With what musthave been great effort, he gave a big thumbs-up. I hung the poster for him and heasked if I would come back. At that moment I decided to keep going each week. AsI left the care center my eyes welled with tears. I couldn't believe such a smallgesture could have such a big impact. That single act made his day, and theposter was something I would have just thrown away.

People take what theyhave for granted. It's kind of hard to do that if you really don't have anything.Thomas has changed my life forever, and he didn't even know it. If we all wouldjust take one minute out of each day to think about people like Thomas, andreflect and be grateful for what we have, then maybe we'd be more inclined tomake a difference.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the September 2000 Teen Ink Community Service Contest.





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