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Rewarding the Soul

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I walked into the front office of St. Vincent de Paul’s nonchalantly, with a group of about 20 people from my school. I was pretty much just there to fill my quota of required service hours. I drudged behind everyone else in line to sign in and get a name tag.
“You’re coming with us!”, exclaimed two men in their dirty, sweaty work uniforms. They split our group in half, and took us to two different places. My group went to the loading docks, where we worked for approximately two hours.
While we were there, we sorted and categorized through all the miscellaneous items that were donated to them. It was mostly just used clothes, including underwear, and some bedding occasionally. It was interesting though, because we found a box that was full of only books about cowboy romance novels and a book about the lives of drag queens.
After that was through, they dragged us to the cafeteria. By that time, I was so tired, I could fall down and sleep right there, and not even care, but I carried on. They gave me trays of food to bring to the tables and write down requests, sort of like a waiter in a fancy restaurant. At one point, one of the shift leaders walked up to me and asked two of my friends and I to bring a cake they had in the back to a little boy at table 37 and sing “Happy Birthday” to him.
We agreed and quickly went to the back and returned with a cake and a box of toys. Mansur, one of my friends, attempted to light the candles on the cake but failed miserably. The fire from the match lit his plastic glove on fire and burned him. He was madder than a wet hen, but he got over it. We eventually managed to light the candles. As we were singing “Happy Birthday”, I suddenly had an epiphany; the little boy was so happy that someone was celebrating his birthday. It was like he never had a birthday before. I looked around the room and noticed all the little children in there, and it was quite sad to see so many children without the basic necessities of life that I take for granted on a daily basis. I then looked at their parents and realized how sad they must feel, how unfortunate and down on their luck they must be to not have a house, a job, or money to give their children a nice life.
A little bit afterwards, we swept and cleaned up. Everyone sat and talked with each other, while I remained in deep thought about the moment of realization I just had. I went home and continued contemplating.
In retrospect, I realize that not only was I helping them, but they were helping me too; they helped me grow. Now, I want to be more excited to readily serve the homeless, when I go back, instead of just going there to meet the amount of required service hours.





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