Rabindranath Tagore once beautifully stated, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy!” Such a quote as this is a perfect justification as to why I chose to do the service project that I did.
After being informed multiple times by my American History professor about her outreach at a Veteran’s Village here in Tallahassee that she has been involved in for many years, she told her classes about how we could help her in her service. Not realizing until later that one of our class assignments was to do a service project, I was interested in helping her out one Thursday evening. With little time, I wasn’t sure how I would be able to manage to do so. However, my professor asked the class to help her out with a certain task for the Veterans Village that would also count for our service project assignment.
After reading her prompt to create gift bags, I went to the store and gathered a few inexpensive items to assure all the veterans were treated equally. I gathered 409 all purpose cleaner, a large towel, large bedroom slippers and two bonus items such as pajamas pants and a pack of razors with a bottle of shaving cream. I also purchased a reusable bag to place all these items in but also for the desired use of the veteran who received my gift bag. When I went to my professor’s office with three of my friends, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of students who shared the eagerness to help these veterans in need in their community. Seeing how many people were willing to reach out and help those in need and realizing that our actions together would be something that these veterans would cherish forever, it led me to remember why I choose to serve.
People wonder why community service and outreach are so important, but I was taught from a very young age that it should be a part of life. It should be a part of who you are. My parents, mainly my mom, used to tell me that better are those who give than receive. Giving was one of the many things in life that would never fail to feed the soul. Since I was a child, I grew up in a household, and church that sought to serve at every opportunity they saw best fit. We used to participate in Project Big Bend, an event in which a group of volunteers would fix up homes of families in need. Every year, we came together as a church and provided food for the homeless shelter and did many more events such as travel to Haiti after the earthquake. My mom has taught me to travel with Samaritan bags which are bags of nonperishable food items and drinks that are easy to distribute when you come in contact with someone in need such as a homeless person. Over the years of serving and learning what it is truly about, I have learned to take advantage of an opportunity whenever it is possible. When learning about the veteran’s service project, I was even more excited about completing the task given by my professor because of two reasons. One, being that every man and woman that is serving or has served deserves to be looked after for the rest of their life. And two, being that both of my grandfathers were and still are veterans, as so are many more distant family members. This service project hit home with me as it provided a new kind of outreach that I have yet to do before.
After the completion of the project, I thought about the impact that this type of service had not only on me, but on others. When taking into consideration what my educational path is going to be, I realize that it is based on service. From growing up learning to serve and realizing what a blessing it is to serve, it has shaped me into the person I am today. It has influenced the type of career I have chosen to pursue because it has shown me how I want to live my life and what one of the greatest gifts in life is. They say when you chose a career path, it needs to be something that you want to do and wouldn’t mind doing to the rest of your life. When I chose my major, I knew it was right because it involved doing two things I love. One, working with athletes and staying close to sports and two, helping those in need and serving others.
I love to think about the impact any outreach has on those who were served. Being in the military hard, but I believe being a veteran is harder. Though they have survived war and receive lifetime benefits, they spend the rest of their lives being overlooked whether society wants to acknowledge it or not. Veterans especially in need of assistance are those who have lost their way and have become homeless. When people reach out to those in need, it makes them feel loved and cared for, but most of all, they feel as if they are not invisible. This is extremely important in my eyes to those who have served for this county. As an American citizen, it should be our duty to do everything in our power to protect those who have given s the opportunity to live our lives as freely as we are able to. I’m sure that those who received the gift bags at the Veterans Village felt appreciated and also appreciated those who were willing to do what they could for them. Even though it doesn’t seem like much to us, it meant so much more to them, because they have nothing in comparison to all that we have in our lives. I hope that every individual that received a gift bag received it with the right heart and gained the desire to give back as they could.
My hope is that through this service project and those I have done in the past or those in my future will have an impact on those in my community. May their eyes be opened to opportunities and may their hearts be opened to the gift of giving. I believe that the more people give, the more community wide and worldwide service projects will blossom.