This semester at college, I was assigned 10 hours of community service along with a paper about my experiences. It was one of those papers that I kept putting off and putting off because I just didn’t want to write it. I’d done my service, I just dreaded the paper.
The instructions for the paper stated that I should write one to two pages (double spaced) including a description of what I did, a list of disappointments, the mission statement from any organizations I worked with and what I had learned from the experience. Not so bad, right? Wrong. I had a million things I wanted to say, but they weren’t on the list!
I have completed my paper as per the assignment, now, I’d like to share what I would have said. I’ll spare you reading the long descriptions of what I did, as I tend to be long winded about such things. Suffice it to say, I volunteered at the local library and taught someone the wonders of Facebook.
What my paper would have read:
I’ve been participating in various forms of service since I joined 4-H at eight years old. It was the most important thing to my leader, closely followed by developing leadership skills. She engrained in all of us the importance of community service and I participated in my fair share (if not more) of less than pleasant activities. They ranged from picking up trash at the park to collecting pop cans to raise money for a domestic violence shelter. We did fun activities, too, of course. One of my favorites was collecting gifts for children in a local home.
When I received the assignment to do community service, I had plenty of things I could do. The only catch was I was required to have someone sign off on the activities. That took things like picking up trash off the list. The librarian has grandkids in my 4-H club, so I immediately asked to volunteer eith the kids. I loved it! I mean, reading to kids and playing games with them? How could I not have fun?
The hardest thing about writing this paper was coming up with my disappointments. I have trouble being disappointed in community service projects. I go in with no expectations because I don’t know what I’ll be doing and I come out with that wonderful feeling of having done something good for someone. I’ll admit, typing book lists because there were no kids in the library was a little disappointing, but I still came away pleased that I was able to help. After spending these hours a the library, I’ll definitely be going back on the days that I don’t have a million other things to do because I love the kids.
I have to tell what I’ve learned from my service time and while I don’t think I learned anything new, I had previous understandings confirmed. One thing I believe about community service is that everyone should do it. It’s not like it’s all that hard. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate like a toy drive for a dozen families. It can be small. It’s as simple as picking up that pop can on the sidewalk instead of stepping over it or kicking it. It can be bringing cookies to that older woman across the street who never has guests, then maybe staying a few minutes to just talk. I love to “adopt” a family at Christmas time and give them food for Christmas dinner and toys for the kids. Giving presents is my favorite part of Christmas anyway and giving to someone who wouldn’t be having Christmas makes it even more fun for me. I know there was at least once that I wouldn’t have had Christmas as a kid if my church hadn’t bought gifts for me and my brother.
So next time someone mentions community service to you, don’t just shrug it off. Find an activity that you can do. Remember, it can be simple. Sometimes it’s gross or boring or maybe just a little weird. It’s all worth it and it’s all important. If we don’t do it, who will? Nothing would ever get done if we all waited for someone else to do it. somebody has to be the first. Who will it be?