6:30 AM on a Saturday morning. I slumped out of bed and stumbled around my room trying to find the right shirt to wear. After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I looked at my phone to check the time: 6:45. “You’re going to be late again!” I thought. I rushed back to my room, got my keys and glasses, and jumped in my car.
Today was another morning at the park. It almost felt routine to wake up this early and drive over to the park since this would be my third year volunteering for this event. I didn’t bother with breakfast because I knew they would have donuts and bagels for us. They always do. Free food made getting up that early on a Saturday much more bearable. As I drove into the parking lot, I saw others already arrived. Everyone was tired, but we all helped ourselves to a warm bagel from Einstein’s.
When everyone had arrived, it was time to get to work. Our job was to set up the annual Easter Egg Hunt. We had been preparing for this event for the past few weeks, coming into our high school Key Club advisor’s room every single chance we got to stuff those 3,000 plastic, Easter eggs. Along with the old eggs, we received new ones to stuff. In the giant egg bins, the colors ranged from orange to pink to red to blue. There were also the more unusual ones from who knows when, like the tiger-striped one or the huge pink one. We worked tirelessly to get these eggs stuffed in time. Yet all our hours of hard work were about to be undone.
After breakfast, we formed teams and each grabbed a bin filled with vibrantly colored eggs. The grass was still wet with dew as we tossed the eggs across the soccer field. The children began to arrive and waited eagerly around the yellow caution tape we had used to mark the perimeter. In the seconds leading to 9 o’clock, the vice mayor started the countdown.
“5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Go!”
Hundreds of small children swarmed the field, picking up as many eggs as they could. Parents helped their infants and toddlers. To get around the younger kids, the older kids rushed out to the middle. A minute later, it was over. The kids began opening their eggs to reveal the goodies inside.
Being part of an event like this is why I am passionate about service. I developed this passion for serving others through my experience in Key Club. When most teenagers hear the words “community service,” they think of things like “What kind of trouble did he get into?” or “What class is that for?” In our society, there is still a stigma when it comes to community service as if it is some sort of punishment or a requirement. In reality, it has the potential to be so much more than that. Everyone should want to serve their community.
Service is a lot like the eggs on the soccer field; acts of service can come in all shapes and sizes. A service act can be an ordinary, bright pink like volunteering at a shelter, or it can be tiger striped like organizing a walk to raise money to eliminate tetanus. What matters is how the one receiving the eggs feels when they open them up. Helping others is a part of our human nature; we are social animals and cooperation is essential for survival. By volunteering our time, we are peppering our community’s “field” with eggs. We volunteer to see the smile on the children’s faces. We volunteer to ensure that the starving child in Africa can get the food they need to survive. We volunteer to help the father in India find clean water to bring back to his family. We volunteer to help the mother in Laos be able to hold her baby in her arms again. Everyone should volunteer because it helps us connect with those in our communities and even allows us to drastically change the lives of people across the world.
Besides the warm, fuzzy feeling you get by helping others, volunteering has other benefits. When you think about the eggs, you cannot forget about all the hard work you put in to get the eggs onto the field in the first place. There was a whole process involved that provides tons of experience learning valuable skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. These skills are extremely valuable to be successful in the real world.
Furthermore, service builds connections. You get to work with so many different kinds of people who can connect you to new opportunities and resources. In a way, volunteering is almost like hunting for eggs yourself, running around and opening as many eggs as possible and seeing what’s inside.
While it is a great idea to get everyone more inclined to serve, some may argue: what’s the point? A common response is: “my service won’t affect anyone” or “the money we raised isn’t going to those kids anyway. It’ll probably end up in the CEO’s pockets!” While service doesn’t always offer tangible results, it is more about the principle of serving. Imagine a child who never got to go Easter egg hunting before. They never got the opportunity to search for an egg. They never had the chance to see what lay inside or the opportunity to experience the possible joy it could bring. Getting just one egg can make all the difference in that child’s life. So no matter how small the action or even if the means are clouded by sketchy bureaucracy, what matters is that you made an effort to hide the egg.
One recent example is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. While widely criticized for being an inefficient way of raising money, it became a viral sensation. Those who criticized it missed its purpose: to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The fact that it became an internet sensation proved that the organizers achieved their goal of raising awareness. By sharing the challenge over social media, the challenge reached millions of people around the world, not only raising awareness, but also raising millions of dollars for research. A huge impact was made by people sharing the challenge, a simple act of service. Instead of slinging negative comments, critics should have taken action. Often those who complain about things on the internet have no solution to the problems themselves and are therefore only contribute negativity. Taking action shows how all acts of service, no matter how small, make a difference. Even if you just hide one egg, someone is bound to find it.
The world would be a much better place if everyone was more inclined towards helping each other. Not only does service help solve real world issues, like not having access to water or food, but it also just makes people happier. Anyone who goes through the process of ordering the eggs, stuffing them, hiding them on the field made the life of someone else better.