Why should you volunteer your free time to help others? Isn’t that a waste of YOUR time? Don’t you have better things you could be doing? Aren’t you supposed to be hanging out with your friends or something?
My first volunteer job was as a Candy Striper for the hospital when I was 14 years old. I’ll never forget my first day of orientation: I was shy, embarrassed to be there, hated my uniform, and just awkward in general (hello, middle school)! My “job” was to answer phone calls in a tiny office, and sometimes deliver things to rooms, if needed. As much as I complained about it when my mom questioned me about my mini job, I felt pretty important.
Throughout my high school years, my mother insisted that my siblings and I volunteer at nursing homes and hospitals. I spent many Sunday mornings making breakfast for the homeless in Downtown Atlanta to volunteer at the local food shelter. It’s not that I didn’t want to do these things, I just felt that because I was in high school, there was always something more important that I should have been doing. To be honest, I kind of dreaded actually going to volunteer. But every time we were finished, I would leave feeling so fulfilled. Like I actually might have made a difference in someone else’s life that day.
Looking back now that I’m older, I am so grateful that my mom had the wisdom to instill the power of acts of kindness into us. I’ve always felt the need to help others, but by actually doing so at such a young age – it really opened my eyes to see what else is out there.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a bubble; I want my kid/future kids to be safe and know what is right and wrong. We get into our daily life and routines and forget what is really going on in the world. I want them to be aware that though they may have parents who love them, feed them, and modern day luxuries… there are a lot of people that don’t have that. A lot of people go their whole lives not realizing that not everyone is like them. Not everyone has a car, or their own bedroom, or all of their meals. Heck, not everyone has a coat or a pair of shoes! On really cold nights, the first thing I think about is all of the homeless people on the streets of Atlanta. Has that ever crossed your mind? It’s time to start opening our eyes to the groups of people who are UNLIKE us.
Are you the type of teen that would go out of your way to help someone in need? What if you saw an elderly person fall in the aisle of a grocery store. Or someone who needed assistance opening the door? Or that kid at the Burger King who is $1 short.
Would you help? Be that person. Be the nice kid. Be the one guy who can’t come to the party because he’s volunteering at the children’s hospital. Or the girl who can’t make the football game because she’s passing out coats to the homeless on the streets on Friday night .
Be the one that everyone else wants to be. Set an example. Whether or not you think so, people are watching. Kids are watching. Your parents, friends, siblings, classmates… they’re all watching. #BETHENICEKID
xoxo, Ashley Dorough
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