An experience in life that forces you to grow up and to take on responsibility, can only be rewarding and uplifting in the future. When you look back at all you came thru and the courage that possesed you at that most trying time. I only have one moment that really sticks out in my mind. Christmas on 1997 my family and I went to The Banquet which is a local food provider for the less fortunate in Sioux Falls. Being thrilled about this certain project my mom decided we should do was not quiet my attitude. I didn’t want to spend Christmas in a dusty old high school serving food to people.
Why could we just be normal and stay home with family. But despite all my protest it was set and we were going. For volunteers your day starts rather early we were to report to Thomas Jefferson Middle school by 10:00 A. M. sharp. As the thoughts ran thru my mind of what to expect when we got there. I started to make up the crazy ideas that we would get there and all around us would be these drugged out, filthy, and uncivilized people. People who choose not to try or to make a difference with there lives. People who were happy taking handouts and living on the street not wanting to change anything.
We pulled up into the parking lot and the first thing i saw was 3 other guys my age. Not all that bad looking either. So I’m beginning to think maybe the day won’t be so bad after all. A tall, broad, and boisterous woman walked up and introduced herself to my family and told us how happy she was to have us here. I quickly began to feel a little more at ease when i saw the rest of the volunteers. We walked into the building and into the gym. My mouth dropped there must have been 50 long cafeteria tables in their if not more.
We quickly were each given a different set of jobs to do. My mom helped with the decorating of the tables. My little brother well I’m not sure exactly what he did but there was a lot of hammering. I went with two other ladies onto the stage of the gym where there were hundreds and hundreds of toys. Our job was to sort them out into gender and age groups. For Christmas we learned the families that come here its all they have so they like to make the children feel like they have a Christmas dinner with presents and all.
Local businesses, families, and even through some fund-raisers donated all the toys that were there early in the year. Everything seems to be ready and set to go. We were given last minute instructions. It was our duty to serve the people coming in from past experience it seemed the most effective instead of having each individual go through. Fights were common we were told and by us serving the food to them the likely hood of a fight breaking out over food was much less. We had strict rules on no seconds until everyone had food.
To smile was one of the most emphasized because a smile from a complete stranger could uplift the whole day. The people started to come and I couldn’t believe the diversity. Hundreds of people at first I think I was scared of them. But soon you began to understand they had been victims to things out of their control now not all of them are but the families with young children. Seeing the longing and hunger they had just broke my heart. I soon began to get on a personal level with them. I fell in love with every child I talk to.
I was given the job of handing out the toys later on in the day. The light and laughter that came when a child picked a toy just made my whole heart smile. The day was an uplifting one and a time for me to actually be thankful for the things i have. I learned so much from a single child then I had my whole life in thinking i was better then them. The tradition continues with my family. We serve either Thanksgiving or Christmas every year and I can’t think of a better way to spend a holiday.