Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Amazing Lunch Bag Adventure

 (from a student AMH2020 online)
My Secret Mission This semester for Doctor Soldani’s online American History course, we were asked to do something that is out of the ordinary for a normal, college course. We were asked to complete a “secret mission”. I saw in the syllabus that this “mission” was included in our final grade, so I automatically assumed that it would have to do with the course. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it has nothing to do with history, not that I was against my course, but because of what our mission entailed. Doctor Soldani explained to us that our secret mission would be to do something out of your normal daily routine that might help out someone in need. Whether it be donating your time at the Veteran’s village, sending our friend Alex a care package, or something of our own creation. With my crazy schedule I was unable to attend any of the Veteran’s village dinners, and I saw Alex was getting a lot of love from my classmates so I decided on something a little different for my secret mission. Every day I wake up with a rood over my head, and food in my fridge, and I take that for granted more often than not, wanting the next new Iphone, or planning my next trip out of town. It’s easy to forget about how many people truly struggle from day to day. For my secret mission, I decided to make a bunch of brown bagged lunches and give them out to any person I see in need.
With my crazy schedule that I previously mentioned, I am driving around town a hundred times a day. Often I see men or women on the side of the road and feel such empathy for them and I always wonder how they got to be in that position. More often than not, it is not their fault and they are forced into the last resort of begging on the street. Due to possible problems with drugs I try not to hand out cash to the homeless for fear of them just digging the hole they are in even deeper. So, I decided to make as many brown bagged lunches as I could and put a few in my car each time I go out for my busy day.
On my shopping trip for these lunches, I bought sandwich meat, cheese, bread, oranges, bags of chips, mini Gatorade bottles, and some little Debbie sweets. In total, I made about 15 bags and I kept them all in my fridge. And with all of that food, it was surprisingly not that expensive which goes to show how a little bit of effort can really go a long way. Needless to say there wasn’t much room in there that week, but that did not last long. I would take about two or three of them with me when I knew I would be out and about for the day. It wasn’t every day that I gave one out, but I always had them with me, and I knew my fiancĂ© and I were going to Atlanta that weekend, so I could take the rest with me for any homeless men or women we saw on the drive.
My first experience was with a man outside of the walmart on Tennessee street. I don’t remember exactly what his sign said, but I know it included that he was a veteran. That made me stop and think real deep. How could someone who served our country end up here? Isn’t anyone else helping him? And doesn’t he have some opportunities being a veteran for some career choices? Unfortunately it is never that simple. My mother always tells me that you should always be kind to someone you do not know, because you don’t know what they’ve been through or what is going on in there life at that time. So, with a smile on my face I handed him my first bag. He smiled and told me “God Bless” which made me instantly grateful for what Doctor Soldani was having us do.
Throughout the week I handed out my bags here and there but I still had a good amount left. Heading to the mall to buy a dress for the upcoming wedding that weekend I saw a mother on the side of the road close to the mall and the Winn Dixie near by. Her sign mentioned her family with her daughters and that anything helps. I knew then where the rest of my lunch bags were going. I could never imagine raising a family like that, and for some reason it hit me hard when I saw her sign. I thought of how my father passed away four years ago and what my mother and I would’ve done if she didn’t have work. I thought of growing up living off of handouts and never knowing where your next meal was coming from. I drove home and got the six or seven bags left in my fridge and I gave them all to that woman and her family. I felt as if it was not enough, but it was the best I had, and I truly hope that I made a homeless man or woman’s day a little better with my contributions.
Throughout this experience an episode of Friends kept coming into my mind every time I would hand out my little bag. In the episode, Phoebe argues with one of the other characters that there is no such thing as a selfless act, because you get happiness from making someone else happy. I kept wondering how that if helping people makes us happy, why don’t we do it more often than we do. My eyes opened to the fact that we don’t help people in need near as much as we should, and there are a million and one opportunities out there to do so. Helping others makes us happy and gives us joy in doing so, so why don’t we do it more often? I hope that these missions are like a ripple effect with my classmates like they’ve been with me. I am so grateful that this was a mandatory assignment because of the happiness it’s brought me, which I never thought I would say.