Shine Week

May 30, 2012
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Growing up in a good neighborhood and knowing of no one who struggled with finances kept me with a closed mind for most of my life. I thought that the only people who had bad living conditions were the ones in movies playing a role. Never had it occurred to me that there were kids my age not knowing when they’ll get their next meal or where they’ll sleep that night. My school did community service but we never got to see how we helped. Then, one day my friend told me about “Shine Week”, a week of community service where we got to see our work in action. This one week changed my view on everything.

The first day of this week we went downtown Detroit and worked in a soup kitchen. We served meals, weeded a garden, and helped out in any other way we could. This soup kitchen was also a place where men could come inside for a warm meal, gather food to take to their families, and stay away from the trouble that lured them on the streets. The ragged clothing and worn out shoes were depressing, but the saddest thing to see was the absolute hunger these men lived with everyday. The soup kitchen provided them with one meal a day and they continued to starve for the rest. After the hard day at work I learned about some of the hardest circumstances these men faced every day.

The second day we went and visited the elderly at a nursing home. At the nursing home we sang songs and shared childhood memories. Some of these adults never got any visitors and were very depressed. Seeing the smiles on their faces while we were singing was priceless and tremendously uplifting. After visiting the elderly we went to a nearby park and picked up trash. That day taught me that I can give back even in my own community.

The third day we went to the beach. The first half of the day we went swimming and played in the sand. The second half we passed out free hotdogs, chips, and drinks to anyone who wanted them. It was amazing to see how doing a random act of kindness can make people so grateful. This experience taught me that even doing a simple act of kindness can brighten someone’s day.

The fourth day we went to Gleaner’s Food Bank in Detroit. We packed boxes of non-perishable items for local families in need. Althoughgh we didn’t get to meet the families receiving the food we did get to see a video from all the families’ receiving the boxes. After packing the boxes they took us on a tour around the warehouse. Around the warehouse they had signs of the major businesses who donate their food. This showed me that no matter how big or small you are you can always help out.

Finally the last day we went to City Mission. At City Mission we did lots of jobs for an area in Detroit. We helped out the whole community including a school, a church, and some local families. Some kids worked passing out food and others mowed lawns for the houses nearby, but what my friends and I did was paint a map of the United States for the school. The map will help the children learn the states and capitals. This taught me that you not only can help people by donating money or passing out food, but you can also share your knowledge.

These experiences not only helped others, but it changed my view on volunteerism. I learned that serving others helps them and also helps me grow as a young adult.





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