Clarence’s time helping the United Federation of Teachers

On May 5th I went to an event sponsored by Senator Comrie to help with the distribution of over 40,000 books to teachers and families in the neighborhood. Seeing these books in the huge, unsorted boxes that they came in was daunting at first, but our group leaders organized us into mini-departments by book title so that we could sort through them all before the recipients came. By the end of sorting it had only taken us about an hour and our spirit and energy were still high.

Once my help was no longer needed with stacking books, I was delegated to be the leader of registration: I was given a booth and a sign up sheet and I took down the information of new volenteers and kept track of how many service hours each participant was doing. But, due to my position including a desk and a tent that was located near the entrance, I was also approached by book recipients in need of information or help. This second unofficial job challenged me to quickly problem solve by networking people and distributing resources: I had to make sure all the staff had pens when we were running out, get food for the book recipients’ refreshments, and create a new position to combat the groups of people who tried to take more books than were allotted to each guest.

My favorite part of the project was meeting a man who was a teacher but had been given a family-size book voucher; he came up to my desk to get my help in getting the right card for himself. In the process of getting him a new voucher I noticed that he only had one leg and I asked him how he was going to get his approximately 50 books back to his car, and he told me that he planned to just walk them back and forth in multiple small trips. Seeing a way to be helpful, I went out and found him a wagon to put his books in so that he only had to make one trip. I ended up talking to him for about 20 minutes while he was collecting his books and travelling to get to his car, and it was amazing to see the excitement that would light up children’s and parents’ faces when they saw him. He was a great teacher, a community figure, and an overall cool guy, and I’m grateful that I was able to meet him through this event.

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