“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” - Audrey Hepburn. Ever since I was a little girl I have always had the ambition to help. From helping my mom around the house with cleaning and organizing to helping my dad in his office. This quote explains what helping really is. People have two hands for a reason, one for yourself and one for another. Helping each other is what we were put on this planet for. When people help each other they also are learning too. I have always known that for as long as I can remember. Every year my family and I would volunteer at the homeless shelter, Sulzbacher, in Jacksonville, Florida, on Christmas Eve and serve lunch to the homeless. It really warmed not only mine but my family’s hearts to help and serve others besides ourselves. These experiences taught us at a very young age that Christmas is not about receiving the presents or Santa’s naughty and nice list, it is about giving.
For my service project I decided to go to Wolfson’s Children’s hospital in Jacksonville, Florida and volunteer. My mother is the Director of the Women’s Board for the hospital, and their purpose is to raise money for the hospital and help the sick children. I wanted to do something special for the kids, so my mom and I thought of ways that could make there lives a little more normal. We thought of what me and my brothers did that was fun when we were younger. After thinking long and hard we decided to have a lemonade stand at the hospital, what better way to feel like a normal American child than to have a lemonade stand. So since there was a lot of children we decided to split it up. I would come home every other weekend for 2 months to start this project. I started off on Saturday October 1stand went to the hospital to project the idea to the kids. They all jumped and smiled and screamed when I told them my idea. So we immediately got started with the sign making and decorations around the hospital to advertise the lemonade stand. I made the kids get in groups of three because there were so many of them. Each child was allowed to make one sign because there was over thirty kids. We put the signs up all around the hospital from oncology, to plastics, to the E.R. so the word would get out. Not only were the kids excited but the staff was as well. They could not wait to see these kids get out of their rooms and be normal for a day. For the children that could not leave their room we would bring the lemonade stand to them in their room because nobody is going to be left out of this fun and unique experience. We started the very next weekend because the kids could not wait. It took a day to set everything up around the hospital and to set some ground rules for the kids. There was only one rule and it was very important to follow and that was just to have fun. There were ten groups of kids and each group go to go three times over the two-month period that I could be there. We decided to sell each cup for one dollar to make as much money as we could. I wanted to experience every moment of this with the kids because it gave us an opportunity to grow closer together and gave the kids someone else to bond with besides their doctors and parents. It gave them a little break from all of the surgery’s and chemo to actually be a kid for a change. All of these kids were so brave. They have been through so much and it really made me feel like I had a purpose in this world because I love to make people smile especially if they have been having a hard time. Knowing that these kids had something to look forward to made them actually have hope that they were loved by everyone. During these two months we had one customer that loved what we were doing together that he said he would match what ever we made. We ended up making over three thousand dollars without him and after his generous donation we made six thousand dollars. The kids could not have been more happy. I gave the kids the choice of where the money should be donated to and they all decided the hospital because it was there home. This experience really made me appreciate the little things in life. The fact that I was able to do this for sick children was so incredible. The kids got together and bought me a necklace to say thank you for everything that I have done for them and to this day I have not taken it off. It reminds me that I can help people out by doing the simple things. And to make people happy is what I truly love to do. We have decided to make this an annual project to help raise money for the hospital and to let the kids have a little distraction from the hard times in their life. This impacted me so much that my friends decided to join me next year. They were all so touched by my stories that they are doing it with me and that will also bring more money to the hospital too. This is a great opportunity for anyone who needs to be cheered up because it will make their heart grow knowing that they are putting smiles on these kids faces. Unfortunately, I was not able to take any pictures with the kids due to confidentiality reasons from the parents but those memories will last forever in our hearts.