Attracting Some Help This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Then again, do not tell me, as a good man did today, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor?" - Emerson



The date was October 10, 1992. To be perfectly honest, it was a dreary day. There were colder than comfortable temperatures, a sky full of clouds and the wind constantly clawing at the nape of my neck. There we were, four 12-year-olds and my mom, standing in from of the supermarket in New City. We were armed with a cause in our heart, and a cup of hot chocolate in our hands. Our cause - to collect as much food as we could to give to the less fortunate of Rockland, a cause we truly believed in.

By eight, we had set up a box for the food we would collect. The next step was to attract the food. As a young couple with two children walked by, we hit them with our spiel.

"Hi. We are collecting food to give to the needy people in Rockland. The food will be distributed by People to People. Would you please help us by purchasing a non-perishable item to donate?" They gave us a response that made it seem as if they had no intention to help. Oh well, they were only our first try. We were very polite, and thanked them for their time.

Within fifteen minutes, we must have asked two dozen people to contribute. Nobody had left the store yet, so we did not know how effective we were. It was lucky number 25 that gave us a sneak peek into the real world. We explained what we were doing to a man in his mid-50s. Expecting a polite response from a kind-enough looking man, what he said practically blew us into the next town. He said, "You *@!$#% people are a pain!" This man's response really upset us. Perhaps we had been a slight inconvenience, but we hardly deserved that response. My mom gave us a pep talk. "Not everyone is going to be willing to help, but it doesn't matter. We will still collect enough food to make a difference."

On the way to their car, three teenage boys came over and gave us two cans of soup. They had gone in with the intentions of buying snacks, but spent some of their money to donate food. If only some adults could have this generous spirit! Two cans of soup after an hour and a half was not a lot, but we stayed cheerful when we asked people. Then the young couple with the two children came out. We wished them a good day, again. To our surprise, the two kids came over with two bags for us. While we were overwhelmed with joy, the kids were also happy and proud of themselves.

Our boxes full of food had gone from barely any to a dozen after six hours. We collected everything from cereal to beef jerky to canned juice concentrate and even toilet paper! The truck came to pick up our boxes and was shocked. Most of the other locations in New City had collected three or four boxes. Our happiness was not due to collecting more than the other people did; we were overjoyed at the fact that we collected enough food to really make a difference.

A local reporter who came to take some pictures interviewed me. All I kept saying was how overjoyed we were when the donations started rolling in. Unfortunately, the reporter chose to use the one obnoxious man to summarize the day. He started his article by saying, "Hunger fighting can be a thankless job, even for an innocent-looking Girl Scout."

Maybe not everyone we targeted wanted to help, but enough did. In total, the food collected in that one cold day all around Rockland, New York was worth nearly $20,000. 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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