Volunteering at the Food Bank—Where Rags and Riches No Longe

September 9, 2012
By Alyssa Jacobson BRONZE, Los Altos, California
Alyssa Jacobson BRONZE, Los Altos, California
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

People say manual labor is the great equalizer. And that today’s youth are corrupt. Volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank has shown me both of these facts are true. As a person who enjoys helping others and having a purpose in the world, I dedicate some of my free time to volunteering. While there are millions of organizations that need help, I chose the Second Harvest Foods Bank because they are dedicated to the inspiring mission of ending local hunger. I volunteered for the food warehouse sorting which consists of a variety of tasks including; sorting products into various boxes, boxing up fruits and vegetables to send to different distribution locations, and various other tasks depending on the daily need. Unlike most college students, I enjoy conversing with people who are dissimilar in age. Living in Miami, I met and kept in touch with graduate students from my weekend yoga classes, working professionals with whom I shared delicious fruit at the organic farmers market, and consignment store owners who knew me by name. As an only child, my parents forced me to find my own friends on vacations so I am very comfortable conversing with people of all ages and backgrounds. This is why I was easily able to strike up a conversation about baking pies and work together with one of my fellow volunteers to sort plums at the food bank.

When I first arrived at the food bank, I was surprised when one of the team leaders immediately asked if I was volunteering for school credit. He was the one who seemed surprised when I responded that I was not and actually was just interested in aiding a good cause. What does this say about today’s students? Are we so obsessed with fulfilling school requirements and racking up resume volunteer hours that people no longer volunteer from the goodness of their hearts? Not surprisingly, I was the youngest volunteer by eons. But, I sorted and lifted boxes just like the grandma and construction worker. Oddly enough, in this one room, our work was the great equalizer. Outside of that room, I am a nineteen year old college student who lives in California, and I am certain no one else in that room could claim that exact description. Yet, inside, it didn’t matter whether you were motivated by the goodness of your heart, fulfilling community service hours, or receiving food in return. We did the same work, were held to the same expectations, and were on the same level. I could have been the princess of a country and still expected to sort and carry my own twenty five pound box of carrots. This situation is a metaphor as the world is the great equalizer. Last names and connections take one so far before he has to do the work. At the end of the day, my coworkers complimented my fast paced sorting. Did I receive the same satisfaction as from an A on a paper? Probably not. But, it still did feel good to be queen of the plums and know that people do recognize hard work in any form.

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