“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others” –Audrey Hepburn
We all need a little help in life, whether its jump starting your car or even someone holding the door while your hands are full. I don’t think anyone can go through life completely alone with no aid, or if they do it can lead to difficult and miserable times that could have so easily been resolved. It is when we come together as a community and work alongside one another towards something better that a change happens for the better. This quotation portrays a very strong meaning that many of us can simply forget in our day to day lives. We can go through our lives only helping ourselves, but we are only using half of our potential, we are only using one hand.
For my service project this semester I donated a bag of previously specified supplies to the men living at the Veteran Village. The bag included a new pillow, pillowcase, bedroom slippers, an all-purpose cleaning product, and one full sized towel all stuffed into a reusable bag. These items may seem like common household goods, but many of the residents at the Veteran’s Village lack these basic items or were due for some new ones.
Originally I had brushed off the opportunity when it had first been introduced due to not wanting to spend the money, or lack of time, but really I was just making up excuses. Slowly I started to realize that these weren’t just random people who needed help, they not only provided support and many risked their lives for our country and our freedom, but are also a part of the community that I reside in today.
When it was explained that this entire project could be done under $20 and make such a large impact on someone’s life, it gave me a new perspective on myself. I had so easily tosses aside the idea because I thought I couldn’t afford it but then I realized, “Why not?” Instead of spending $20 at a restaurant one night, I bought these necessary materials that will another for an extended amount of time, these items that I tend to take for granted having in my own home. It made me realize that the excuses I was making was really just because I am used to only helping myself, and only using half of my potential.
While shopping for the products, I found myself enjoying the process of picking out these items and looked forward to the comfort and ease they will provide to their new owner. I had a little too much fun picking through different color towels and bags wondering which the veteran receiving my bag would like and putting it all together while trying to make it look as presentable as possible (I can’t help but get a little OCD at times!). It shocked me how easy and affordable this project turned out to be, yet also could be so extremely beneficial to another.
When I had finished collecting the items, it dawned on me just how simple this task really was. I thought about the hesitation I had first shown towards the opportunity and compared it to the good feeling I received knowing I was helping someone who might not have access to these seemingly basic household items. I wasn’t thinking of the money or the time I was spending putting effort into this project, but instead I was focused on ensuring my bag would benefit the man receiving it as much as possible.
I feel like this service project has taught me a lot about what it really means to help another and put many things into perspective for me. It has caused me to have a newfound gratitude for the things I am fortunate enough to have and has shown me that even the smallest gesture could mean the world to someone else.
I enjoyed this project because it’s easy to get swept away in the troubles of student life during college and this assignment reminds us that there are so many people in the world facing very different challenges. While I may worry about an upcoming due date on a paper or finals, some people worry about their next meal or a place to sleep. My service project this semester has inspired me to do small extra things that previously I would have just ignored and instead strive to use my full potential.