Christmas In The City This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I first realized I wanted to help the less fortunate when I was very young. Whenever my family drove to Boston and the homeless came to our car windows with their worn Dunkin' Donuts cups, I wanted to do something but I was told that giving them money was not the way to help.

In eighth grade a youth group was formed in my church. It was mostly a social hour for many of the girls in our church (boys were allowed to join too, but none did). We did do a few activities for the poor in the Boston area, though. One activity made a lasting impression because we actually interacted with the homeless from shelters in the city. It was called Christmas in the City, which is held yearly at Boston College High School with the help of volunteers from many towns.

We arrived in the morning. Tons of people were already there, and we got to work setting the tables. There must have been at least 200 tables. Twenty of us girls were given a group of six tables. We were in charge of making sure our "guests" were happy and had enough Christmas dinner. There were three adults assigned to our tables too, who were there to take care of everything we couldn't. We covered the tables with cloths and centerpieces. We rolled the utensils in napkins, and placed bottles of milk and baskets of bread at every table. We finished early and had some time to relax.

The adults told us what to expect. They stressed that these people would probably not thank us for our effort and might be rude. They couldn't have been more wrong. The guests at my tables were some of the most polite people I have ever met.

Pretty soon three women sang Christmas carols and Santa walked around with people dressed up in reindeer and elf costumes. When the buses began to arrive we checked that everything was set. The shelter that we were assigned to was one of the first to arrive. They were all woman and children, whom we tried to make feel welcome. We pulled out the chairs for the mothers holding babies and introduced ourselves as their hostesses for the day. I introduced myself to many of the little children.

There was one mother with three young children and a baby. One of her little girls had to use the bathroom, so I volunteered to take her and she was very grateful. The little girl's name was Sophie and she was five. She was one of the friendliest little girls I had ever met. The gym was filling up with people so she grabbed my hand tightly so she wouldn't get lost. She told me all she wanted was a Barbie doll for Christmas. I told her we could find Santa and tell him. The children were very excited about meeting Santa and getting presents, and the mothers were happy to see their children happy.

Toddlers were running all over the place. There was one little boy dancing on a table, and others were dancing together. Our job was to help babysit so the mothers could have a chance to relax. The kids were basically well behaved, and rarely left our area if entertained.

After everyone arrived we began serving the meal, which took an hour. When everybody finished, there was a little carnival area with a place to sit on Santa's lap, a moon walk, a petting zoo and a place to get a haircut. I watched the babies so the mothers could go over with their kids.

We were all exhausted. The day had been great. Everybody was so happy. They seemed to forget their problems and get into the Christmas spirit. And now they topped it off with presents. I prayed that the kids would get what they wanted because they wouldn't have another chance until next year. If these kids left happy I would be happy. I watched as Sophie was given her present. It was wrapped up and was bigger than she was, so I went over to help her. She was very upset because the box was too big to be a Barbie doll. When we opened it, it wasn't just a single Barbie, but Barbie's dream house with Barbie and all her friends. I guess everybody had a great day. fl


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






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