By Maggie Williams, NSU Student
The first time I started giving back, I was a freshman in high school. It was a cold, early Saturday morning when a group of my friends and I went to a soup kitchen to serve food to the homeless. As soon as we walked in, we were met by the long-time volunteers who handed us the itchiest hair nets and latex gloves. They immediately put us to work. I quickly figured out that I did not have a skill of cutting tomatoes and I get hot very easily. We switched work spots throughout the time we were there so when I got to serving food, I burned myself. However, with all the wrong things happening, I was not focused on that. I was focused on putting good out into the world. I wanted to make people smile, feel loved, feel important, and most of all, stay warm and have full stomachs. As I grew a little older and wiser, I found out so many different ways I can give back and I realized that it doesn’t all have to be material related.
I had the opportunity to attend a mission trip to Guatemala lead by my high school. It was my junior year and if I was going to do it, it was going to be a very big step for me in my life. The whole time we were there, I was able to see in person what I saw on television and in magazines. There were people on the streets selling fruit, chickens, handmade goods; anything to make a dollar. As we drove through the country, I noticed the people of Guatemala walking up the rolling hills of these mountains while carrying their babies on their backs. At that moment, I felt so horrible to even be riding up those hills in a van. It was not fair that they had to walk while we had the privilege of being driven around.
After that trip, I couldn’t believe how much I took for granted back in America. Some of us have the luxury of living in a house with multiple bedrooms and multiple bathrooms. The people of Guatemala have a cinder block house with no rooms. Most of them only have one bed, if that, a place to make a fire to cook their food, and maybe a couple of plastic chairs to sit on. They have anywhere from 4 to 10 people living in that one room, sleeping in that one bed.
In America, we have homes and shelters. We know that there will always be a roof that we can stay under. Most Americans have food, a job, blankets to keep warm, shoes to protect their feet, strollers to bring their children with them, toothpaste and toothbrushes to brush their teeth, and toilets to use the bathroom. However, there are also people in our country that do not have these things. There are people on the streets every day, some with hardly any clothing. Regardless of how they got to where they are, they deserve help. Every single person in need in this world deserves help. They deserve food, clothing, blankets, clean water, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a smile on their face. So, giving back can start as small as your community because in every community, there is going to be somebody that needs help.
Helping others has healed me in so many ways and taught me so many things. I will continue to give back to my community and other communities. This chapter of my book does not end here. I feel the need and want to give back to not only my country, but the world. There is too much that I can help with for me to just sit back, watch, and do nothing. Hopefully I can help the world become a more peaceful place with the beauty of giving.