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Pancake Breakfasts at Ten in the Morning

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The scent of buttermilk golden pancakes wafted up my nose. It lingered there, causing me to drool. But I couldn’t just stand there and sniff the delectable air around me; I had to get to work. I was volunteering through Key Club, an organization in my school dedicated to helping others.

A week ago, I was almost hesitant to sign up. Sierra Middle School was hosting a “pancake breakfast” to fundraise for money for educational fieldtrips. I had never really “volunteered” to “help the community” before, but I remembered when I was still a middle-schooler in Sierra and I remembered our amazing field trips, including one when we went to California and waded in the tide pools, searching for sea stars and finding little black crabs scuttering across moss-covered rocks. I decided to go for it. After all, someone probably helped make the pancakes and sold them to help me go to California when I was in 7th grade. Now it was my turn as the benefactress.

So there I stood, people in pancake-batter-covered aprons rushing about, holding pots and pans and trays of steaming hot pancakes, surrounding me. I stood there for a while, waiting for someone to direct me to my job. No one did. I quickly began to realize that everyone was too busy; outside the cafeteria, a long line of people were waiting eagerly on the steps for breakfast.

Soon enough, I saw my old 8th grade English teacher. She gave me some kitchen utensils to dry with a towel. We talked a bit, and through the smile she gave me, I felt like my extra hands were needed, and made me glad that I had signed up to volunteer. I saw my old friend, Amber’s, mom and dad. Her dad was a social studies teacher at Sierra. I was surprise by the number of teachers that showed up. I saw many familiar faces, all jolly with sweat, including my Geometry teacher, who flashed me a quick smile before going to fetch some bins. A 6th grade science teacher thanked me for coming and I even saw the cafeteria ladies, whom I waved to giddily.

A while later, my friend Allyson arrived. I had asked her to come help with me, perhaps a little afraid that I was going to wind up washing dishes alone. (Thank God we had a dishwasher for that.) But the contagious eagerness to cook up more batches of pancakes that had bit everyone was now affecting me. I had no time to talk to Allyson as I helped zealously scoop up the biscuits, carry the dirty bowls to the dishwasher, and—my favorite—carry trays around the stations of pancake cookers. Allyson apparently thought this was fun, also. She and I hurriedly rushed from on table to the next, loading up pancakes like we were delivery people that worked for the UPS. All the while, I was salivating.


In the meantime, I was struck by the feeling of camaraderie that permeated through the room, along with the smell of pancakes. People I didn’t know smiled at me when I asked them if their pancakes were ready. There were hearty jokes and friendly banter constantly uttered—mostly about eating pancakes. After the rush was over, I smiled when I saw a woman and her daughter begin pouring batter in a Mickey Mouse shape.

The people stopped coming gradually and simultaneously, we were out of biscuits. I lingered around, attempting to pitch in in the cleaning. When the other volunteers thanked Allyson and I again for coming, we smiled and replied with sincere “Your Welcome”s.



In all the rush, we felt like we were really helping out, doing something good, something fun and worthwhile. After almost everybody left, the secretary, who was also there to help, offered us some pancakes to eat. Allyson and I both placed some on the Styrofoam plates and poured maple syrup on top. We ate happily and hungrily, since it was well around lunchtime. It was a great experience. But even better were the pancakes.





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