Serving My Community

September 23, 2017
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On a not-so-beautiful summer day, my mom and I were shopping for something I loved, school supplies. That’s right, school supplies. About half an hour and $70 later, we decided to go to lunch. The weather was atrocious, and we complained all the way to the car, and all the way into the restaurant as we were pelted with cold raindrops. We ordered and sat down with our food, and I noticed a man sitting a few tables down.

Plopped in a chair with a long grey beard and a worn Redskins hat was a homeless man. Beside him a single suitcase, and an umbrella propped against the table. I asked my mom in a whisper, “Is he homeless”, and she casually glanced behind her and nodded. I then began thinking. “We just spent $70 on school supplies, and he doesn’t have a dry place to sleep tonight”. We were complaining about walking in the rain for less than 30 seconds, and he was having to take shelter from the storm in a restaurant.


There I was in the middle of a restaurant balling, tears dripping off my face. I couldn’t and didn’t want to eat, and all I could do was continue thinking as I kept glancing back to his table. I realized he had fallen asleep. Sitting upright in a restaurant chair, he had fallen asleep while taking shelter from the rain. The tears fell again and we left the restaurant.


While driving home, my mom told me that I had a heart for the poor, so I should earn my Service Learning Hours doing something I felt passionate about. We got home that evening and she called a friend of hers, asking if she knew about any opportunities to help the poor. The next week, I was volunteering in the school system’s local food pantry.


Families came in empty-handed and out with bags and bags of foodstuffs, and clothing if needed. My first time volunteering I mostly just observed the other two volunteers, Rusty and Bob. But I did get the help the organizer of the food pantry order the next shipment of food. We ordered over 3,000 pounds, and I couldn't believe that it would fit on the already full shelves. But, when I came back two weeks later, I was shocked at how much their supply had shrunk. A whole shelf of juice has dwindled into just a few bottles. Bags upon bags of chips had been taken, and the 3 freezers that were full, had been emptied to just a few packages of meat and some frozen meals.


My second time volunteering was different. I did a whole lot more like organizing shelves and checking the freezer temperatures. Even though I’m not one for socializing, I also talked with the other volunteers, Rusty and Bob. Rusty and Bob are each so interesting and so wise. Rusty had a discussion with me about my life goals, and was impressed with the fact that as a freshman in highschool, I had plans for the future, given the fact that they were likely to change. Bob, as a 77 year old, volunteers for several different organizations every week! Both men are incredible people, who give back to the community in any way they can, sometimes by spreading wisdom and other times by handing out food.


Those who come into the food pantry are the kindest people. I think that’s one of the greatest flaws in our society nowadays- the people who have the least are the ones who are most appreciative. And those who have “everything”: a warm bed, a home, a phone, and plenty of food, often have trouble seeing all that they have. Most of us take things for granted, but with this experience, I am trying to view my life as a glass half full. There is always someone going through something difficult somewhere in the world, so always enjoy the moment, appreciate what you have, and most importantly, give back to those who don’t.






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