In Fact, They Helped Me

February 5, 2013
By , Alpine, NJ
"I want to help people", I remember telling my dad when I was young. Back then, I didn't really know what to do, but more importantly how to do it. But a year ago, I've found my answer to that question. I've fallen in love with helping people who are less fortunate than me.

First off, it's so humbling to know that I can make a difference in someone else's life. I don't know if there's a better feeling than that. But community service is something more than that. It's a chance for me to give back to my community and simply help others for nothing in return. It's the impact that I can have and turn a frown into a smile. That's the real beauty of helping others.

In school, I am a member of the Women Issue's Club. One of the foundations that we help is Sanctuary for Families. It's a nonprofit organization that is dedicated exclusively to serving domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children. They help thousands of victims and assist them to building safe lives with high quality services. Sanctuary helps women and girls to be confident and create new beginnings for their life.

When I first met the kids at the Sanctuary, I wasn't sure what to do. The kids were decorating pumpkins with paint and stickers, making picture frames, and I was told to help them. While I was helping them, the children looked about 6 to 11 years old. I couldn't believe the things they were going through. I thought, 'It must be really hard for them.' However, they looked happy and put a smile on their faces for me. I didn't know if it was a forced smile or a natural one. I soon realized that whichever one it was, their reality was that they didn't have a father figure in their lives and they didn't have half the care and opportunities that I had.

Despite all this, even that morning, I was complaining to my parents about something not important at all. But when I saw these children, I saw how selfish and thoughtless I was. I remembered all the times when I fought with my mom and dad, and looked back on myself. I took my family for granted, because they were with me everyday. Then I noticed how important my family is, despite the time when we argue and fight. I noted that I should be grateful for what I have and show that more to my parents because they would never know, unless I say something. The famous proverb became realistic, "You never know what you have, unless after you lose it."

After that remarkable experience, I wanted to take some time and think about I way that I can help them. A couple months ago, Hurricane Sandy hit them pretty hard and they lost a lot of stuff in the hurricane. So I was determined to start a project at my school and with the Women Issues Club, to raise money for the Sanctuary.

I had to give this a lot of thought, because I wanted something that would fun, but successful project that I would be able to carry out. So after hours of pondering, I came up with a fantastic idea with my mom's suggestion.

I decided to coordinate a ribbon project. The main idea is to create ribbons and sell them for a couple of dollars to neighbors, classmates, and teachers. The ribbons will have the donor's name on it, and it will be sewn on a tapestry, and hung up in our club's meeting room, which is used as a classroom as well. So everyone who enters that room, would be able to see the honorable donors and the donations they made. I knew the Sanctuary would appreciate this greatly, and it was such an honor for me to carry out a project like this, with the help of teachers and my mom, who spent a lot of hours with me, making the ribbons.

During this project, it was hard to actually sell the ribbons and explain to everyone what it was about. I sent out emails, made announcements at assemblies and classrooms to raise awareness for what they could do for an amazing cause.

After this project being a success and unraveling exactly the way I wanted it to, I know I will soon organize another school project for this foundation. I loved entertaining the kids and providing them with activities they can do. I didn't expect for me to love them so much.

And what's interesting is, while taking the time out of my day to help others, I learned something new about myself. Every service experience to me is a valuable one, because it changes you every time. I'm excited to see what more I can do for the Sanctuary.

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