Alice in Interactland

February 10, 2012
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There I sat in seventh hour listening to Mrs. Green, my English teacher who doubles as the sponsor of the volunteering club Interact, when I hear her chime, “…opportunity to dress in costume.” All other details of the expedition meant little to me, as long as I could have an enjoyable time helping out while in costume!

Looking more into the trip, I learned we would be going to the Watkin’s shelter in Phoenix to serve the local less fortunate and then create cutsie crafts with the kids. Did I mention this was around Halloween? That is why we were permitted to dress up of course.

After rushing home to transform myself into the long blonde haired Alice in her customary blue dress, I made my way back to school, not lead by a truant white bunny, might I add! As I waited on the school bus for our departure to the shelter, a senior at my high school cheered like a little girl as she spotted me through the slats of the bus’s door and prompted me to take a picture with her. As I posed next to her, like a character found roaming Disneyland, it really made me pleased to know that by simply slipping into a costume I could bring enjoyment into someone’s day. It also gave me hope that the young children awaiting me at the shelter would meet me with the same, or even more, enthusiasm.

Once we arrived at the shelter, the work of the night could begin. The first task was to fill some hungry bellies, but after discovering my enormous blonde wig would not cram into the required hairnet, I stationed myself at the beverage table where I poured a choice of milk or fruit punch. My heart made a slight tremble as I watched the loads of people who filed into the cafeteria. There were people of all kinds, who although were clearly in tight predicaments, seemed to be having a nice time even if only for that one night. Considering this “night of enjoyment” really made me want to make the most of my cheerful disguise by creating a fantasy character that would bring joy into the children’s lives.

The dinner rush died down, and Mrs. Green asked me if I wanted to assist her in setting up the craft area. As I made my way to the other room, a flock of screaming kids followed calling “Cinderella! Cinderella!” We had to drain the flood of little admirers and then begin the preparations of the Halloween crafts. I was glad my wish of the kid’s appreciation of my costume was granted and could not wait to interact with them.

Dozens of young faces spilled into the room and the craft making could now ensue. I was positioned at the pumpkin face making station. Kid after kid stopped by to create their paper pumpkin faces which were to be held to their faces with a Popsicle stick. One little girl in particular seemed to be especially entranced by my costume. The girl did not speak much but simply sat on my lap at the table showing everyone the pumpkin face she had made. The moment her big brown eyes looked up at me, I knew I had achieved my goal of both helping the problem of hunger and bringing a spark of happiness into some little ones lives.

After all scraps were collected and all Elmer’s glue scrapped, my peers and I boarded the bus home. Various songs were sung on the ride home and one could help but flash a smile that stretched from ear to ear. Knowing I would later have to select a community service experience to write about for Mrs. Green’s class, I knew this would be the one. I look forward to one day slipping through the dark hole into Interactland again and continuing to make a difference in my community.

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