(Student Essay Fall 2015)
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” - Ellen DeGeneres
Growing up I was always told to give back as much as possible because it was the right thing to do in our religious belief. I remember giving any spare change we could find in the car to the homeless man that always stood at the corner of our road, the smile on his face was so reassuring that we were helping him. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what they would actually spend the money we gave them, or at least majority of the time would spend their money on. When I was younger I would always assumed they would buy dinner or something to wear to keep them comfortable in the Florida weather since we all know how rapidly it changes. Turns out most of the time they bought drugs or alcohol; I’m not going to lie, I lost a lot of respect for them when I found that out.
My parents would always tell me and my brother that it’s not our job to judge people, it’s our job to help them in need and that is all. Like Ellen DeGeneres said, we need more compassion, this world is so full of judgment and hate that sometimes people forget everyone is going through their own hardship. So maybe homeless people use the money we donate to them to buy drugs and alcohol? Maybe their life is so difficult for them to handle they need something to make it easier, they need something to make them smile again.
Learning that I would have the opportunity to give to someone in need, without just giving them cash gave me satisfaction. As weird as it sounds, I actually got excited to donate something to the people of Veteran’s Village, I began planning what I could do for them at the beginning of the semester when I originally learned about this project. I wanted to attend the dinners that were held every Thursday, especially since over half of my family members are veterans from some sort of war but my other classes interfered with the timing.
Since I missed those dinners I wanted to do something that would really help them so I asked my dad and Papa for some ideas. I chose to donate bedroom supplies like flannel sheets and a fuzzy blanket for the cold weather approaching. From this experience I learned that I shouldn’t just wait to do something good for someone else just because it was an assignment through school. I should try to find the time to donate my helping hand to those in need as much as I can because it really does have a greater affect on them in the long run. Whether its donating clothes and essentials for their personal needs or taking the time to sit with them and talk to them or let them tell you their story, they appreciate everything you do. Most people just want someone to talk to, they want to feel cared about and they love hearing other stories about life and adventures, so donating some free time shouldn’t be so hard to do.
After I got everything wrapped and decorated (since I’m giving it to a veteran as a Christmas present), I had a feeling of excitement rush over me. I feel so proud of myself for taking the time and money to go shopping for someone I didn’t know, I’m sure it sounds silly but this feeling is motivating and it makes me want to do something like this more often. I want to try to donate my time again so next time I can sit down with some of the veterans and learn about their story, if they tell me. I want to create a connection with them so when I visit again they know who I am, I will know who they are, and we can just pick up where we left off last time. I think everyone secretly wants to just tell a stranger what they go through in their personal life, their triumphs and their hardships. Getting that sort of weight off your chest is freeing and sometimes it just helps to say what hurts out loud so you can move on, it’s like being a therapist to a stranger.
Thank you for introducing me to this local place because I honestly didn’t know it existed, it warms my heart to know Tallahassee established a safe and comfortable place for homeless veterans to turn too. I hope my veteran enjoys the present I got him, I know it’s not much but I figured they were essentials and he could always use some clean, warm sheets and a fluffy blanket to wrap up in for the holidays., I know that’s my favorite part of opening my stocking on Christmas, seeing what kind of candy my parents got me. It’s the child inside of me that will never grow up, I think we all still have it in us and still hope to get our favorite sweet treat on special holidays, so I hope he enjoys them and has a wonderful Christmas.