The time spent throughout high school was one of the toughest times of my life. Mainly due to the fact that I didn’t know what to do with my life or what was my actual purpose. I had a long talk with my favorite teacher and she gave me a lot pf insight on this matter. What I take away most from our discussion is that, our sole purpose in our lifetimes should be to help someone else. Therefore I should pick a career that involves helping others. What my teacher said to me is very similar to the quote “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” By Dalai Lama.
Which leads me to the actual reason why I decided to help the homeless. Each year when Christmas comes around people usually go to spend time with their families and loved ones. As well as receive gifts. But not everyone can do this, especially the homeless. My service project would be to help the homeless by gifting little presents and sending off Christmas cards. What I thought would be an impactful thing for them turned out to affect me even more.
The first step in this actual process was to figure out where I would make these deliveries. I didn’t have a direct location at first but I started to remember the places where I see the most homeless people. The first place I thought of was the McDonalds on capital circle, then Walmart on Tennessee Street, and the bus station on Tennessee Street, which actually had a huge amount of the homeless. I decided to get some of my debate team friends to help me with this project it was a little tough trying to do it by myself. I went to the dollar store and picked out a few things such as deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes and Christmas cards. My teammates helped me make at least 15 decorated little bags with those essentials and I wrote something from the heart in every card.
The following day I went to do my good deed. I started at the McDonalds on Tennessee Street and there was two men on opposite ends of the parking lot who both had signs. The first one said “Retired veteran, anything helps” and the other said “I have a family”. I went to the first guy and the first thing he said to me was do you have any spare change. I responded with no but I do have a present for you. He looked so surprised and he started to smile so big. I handed him the gift bag and told him merry Christmas. I went to the next guy and proceeded to do the same thing. His reaction was priceless as well. My first stop was a success and I never felt so helpful in my life after those moments.
The Walmart area was next and unfortunately there was only one guy that I found hanging around in the parking lot. He had no sign at all. In fact he was in a wheelchair and he looked extremely sad. The most disappointing thing about him was that he didn’t have a jacket on and it was so cold outside. So I went to Walmart and bought a blanket for him. When I walked up to him he looked a little scared. I told him right away that he doesn’t have to be afraid, I’m just here to drop him a present off. He started to cry and he responded “I haven’t seen my family in 5 years. Ever since I became homeless they started to resent me and they didn’t help me at all.” I couldn’t help but feel for his story and I started to cry. I can’t even imagine making a few mistakes and then my family not wanting to talk to me anymore. I gave him his gift and I told him to wait to open his Christmas card on Christmas. He agreed and I gave him a huge hug. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
After my emotional time with the guy in the wheelchair I went to the bus station. I have 12 gift bags left and I just walked around and started to pass them out. There were a lot of people who were homeless and I started to feel bad because I knew I didn’t have enough. So when I ran out of bags I drove over to the nearest Walgreens, and I bought a few more Christmas cards. I didn’t have time to write in them because I have to be to work soon but I knew everyone would still be grateful. Just like I predicted everybody was still happy and the overall reactions from everyone was amazing and I just felt so good. These people probably haven’t seen their family in forever, and probably don’t even have families. To know that I was a part of making their Christmas slightly better just fills my heart.
Not only did this project fill my heart it actually taught me a few things. The most important that you don’t have to have a lot to try to give back and it’s not always about handing out money. The fact that I took the time out to prepare gifts and write in cards made someone’s day. My biggest hope is that those homeless people are inspired by my messages I wrote and know that despite their situation they still have the chance to get out of their negative situation. I really appreciate this class not just for the things I learned about American history but for the actual chance to put a smile on someone’s face. Especially at someone’s lowest point, so thank you.