Last week I cooked dinner for the friends shelter. With the help of my mom I went to the store and got all of the ingredients for lasagna, salad (both for dinner) muffins (for breakfast) and some cookies for desert. After this we went home and took a couple hours to prepare the meal. We packed up the food in containers and put in some utensils and brought it to the shelter. When we got there the volunteers were finishing setting up and their faces lit up when they saw all the food. They were so thankful and it felt so great to make a difference in someone’s life; even if it were supplying them with one dinner on one night. The next day I got an email from the head of the friends shelter saying thanks and that the guests loved the food. She said that at night they “started to sing because of how happy they were about the food” and “in the morning they were still humming and singing.” I can’t really describe with words how this made me feel to know that I helped people feel this way, but I plan on doing this again and helping more people find this happiness however I can.
Going into this year’s service day I was very hesitant; I wasn’t sure how it would working at a meat packing factory, and I didn’t know what we would be doing in the first place. When we got there we went into a room and watched a video on hunger, and the facts were appalling. The massive amounts of children that are starving around the world was so large I almost didn’t believe it. Then, after the video and after they had debriefed us on what we were going to be doing, I was unsure how, and if, we would actually be helping anyone by packing meat into boxes. However, after we had worked hard for numerous hours packing meat into boxes, and weighing and organizing the boxes, they told us how much we really had helped. Apparently we had packed thousands of pounds of meat, which would feed hundreds of thousands of people around the country. When we got back to school we watched a documentary on hunger, in which a statistic was stated that, once again, I believed was too high to be true: 1 in 3 people in the USA suffer from hunger. All in all, I have a completely new outlook on the issue of hunger in the world, and more specifically in America. I didn’t realize the extent to which hunger plagued the country, and with this new knowledge and new experience, I would love to do something like this again!
This fall my teacher, Phyllis Trout, asked me to help her out with running and organizing her stand at her community’s street fair. In the spirit of the class, sculpture, she asked me to help run the pumpkin carving stand, in which children came up with their own pumpkins and I helped them sculpt what they want, or sculpted it for them. The experience was not only fun, but also it was rewarding in that I got to connect with the community and help make children’s halloween that much better. I had never worked at a stand or at a fair before and I have to say, I loved it and I’d love to do it again.
In late April, I worked with MillionTreesNYC on forest restoration day, focusing on stewardship and caring for young forests that have already been planted. In this endeavor, MillionTreesNYC and NYC Parks are joined by the Natural Areas Conservancy, a non-profit organization whose sole focus is to enhance and preserve the natural areas of New York City, including forests, wetlands, marshlands and other natural resources critical to protecting the city’s shorefront from storms such as Sandy. The organization also helps care for new forest trees in natural areas by removing invasive weeds and vines, picking up garbage, and mulching. Looking back on this day, although it was a pain to get up to Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, it was 100% worth it. Not only are trees necessary for our survival, but they look beautiful and add a sense of beauty and purity to places that may have before seemed otherwise. I am happy that I was part of an event that not only helped preserve wildlife, but create it too.
After working with God’s Love we Deliver for several years now, I knew exactly what I was walking in to with this service event. Me and a bunch of my friends decided that Birthdays in a Box would not only be a fun experience, but also that it would be nice to be able to bring joy to someone just by writing them a letter, drawing them a picture, or putting napkins and other necessities for a party in a box. After helping pack things such as utensils and napkins into boxes, I did something more creative- I wrote cards to the kids. I am happy that I was able to participate in such a well organized and fun event, and I’m happy that I could bring happiness to someone through the actions of me and my friends (it was a joint effort).
Last week I participated in a service event in which I donated and organized books- the event was called Project Cicero Book Distribution. I along with other volunteers helped Project Cicero organize, display and distribute gently-used children’s books to teachers from under-resourced public schools in NYC. I brought nearly 10 books mainly for kids in Kindergarten or 1st Grade. Afterwards I stayed to organize books and put them in boxes to be shipped to the under-resources schools.
Looking back on this event, although it may not have been as labor-intensive as other events, it was just as significant in the scheme of service. I am glad that I was part of the attempt to help underprivileged children, whose schools don’t have the resources to obtain these resources- in this case the “resources” being books. I haven’t read these books in over 10 years and wasn’t planning to any time soon and without a doubt this was the best possible thing to do with them.
A few weeks ago the school hosted a service day in which we made bracelets, made bowls, created birthday cards, etc. I came in to school with my brother not knowing what I was going to do, and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Instead of long, tedious service like I have experienced in the past, this was much more exciting and entertaining. In addition, knowing that the bowls we made would be used and sold, other than feeling pressure (just kidding) to make a quality bowl, it was fulfilling to finish something I was proud of and I knew would help those in need, or who need something to eat cereal or ice-cream in! All in all, I am happy I attended such a fun service event, and I’m happy my hard work was for a good cause!
On the day of service that the school set up we went upstate to work with people committed to help preserve the Hudson River, the wildlife within it, and the nature surrounding it. After a long bus ride, nearly two hours long, we finally arrived. We split up by advisory and my advisory was assigned with the task of cleaning up the edge of the river, i.e. picking up trash. We put all of the trash that was either in the river or beside it into trash bags, and then gave them to the people working there. We picked up everything from beer cans to loose string, but regardless of what we found or how much we found we were aiding others’ in the attempt to clean up the Hudson River.
Looking back on the process I am actually really glad that I was able to partake in such an experience. As a New Yorker I know how polluted the Hudson River is and although it may have seemed tedious and even boring at times during the event, looking back I am happy to know that I helped clean up the river that I, along with thousands of others, see every day, even if it was a small amount.