What I Learned from Helping Others

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Living in a small town, I go every day seeing many families struggling to support themselves. All over the world today, hardworking people are barely able to provide to their family what is needed every day. Seeing this growing up completely broke my heart.
Being fifteen years old, I never thought I could actually make a difference; actually help others that really need it. However, I was surprised to learn that even the smallest act of kindness, can mean the world to someone who may not have much in their life.
One of the main goals I have set for myself is to do everything and anything possible to help others, with every chance I get. Almost every day in school, I buy lunch for my friend who doesn't have enough money to purchase food, but is too embarrassed to apply for free or reduced lunch. Taking that small amount of $2.50 out of my pocket every day to give this boy something good to eat, makes me smile every time.
Small things like that do truly make a huge difference. I also volunteer with many different organization throughout the year. Back in December, I gave up every Saturday to participate in Christmas activities that included food drives, book drives, and many other helpful activities. One particular Saturday, I volunteered for six hours collecting canned and boxed foods for a food drive to benefit flood victims devastated by Hurricane Irene in our county. Many people that I know personally lost their homes due to the flooding, so I knew that this event would be very important.
The next Saturday, I volunteered 13 hours of my time at one of the most rewarding events I have ever helped at. It was the Toys for Tots train that ran through Cobleskill, New York. I got up early that morning and went to the local firehouse where I baked cookies, wrapped presents, made decorations and prepared lunch with a handful of other teenage volunteers from about 6 a.m until about noon. Then, the children started to arrive. Music was playing, gifts were being given out, cookies were being crammed into their little mouths... smiles on all of their faces. It felt so good to give these little children a gifts and treats, since many of them wouldn't get much else for Christmas. I had one mother come up to me a give me a hug, and then she told me, "This means so much to the community. So many of us can barely afford the food on the table, so this is amazing. This is all my children will get for Christmas this year." It brought a tear to my eye.
After everyone began to file out to where the train was arriving, I helped clean up and then went outside for the "big job." While a Christmas band played for the children, myself and about ten other kids helped the Marines that were on the train unload 200 bags of toys and stuffed animals for the Head Start and Day-care programs in the area, and then another 100 bags for the children that were at the event.

Many people wouldn't give up so much time to help others, especially as often as I do. I am not asking for a medal, or any recognition for all the efforts I have put into helping people in my community, I just want to get the message out that every little bit of kindness you can show to people in need, means the world to them. Showing compassion and helping others can truly change the world.





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