Something to think about

Consumed with thought, I probably should be studying for the exam I have tonight, yet I’m not ready to crack open the books. Recently I had the chance to reflect with several of my fellow Red Cross volunteers about what I’ve done with the Red Cross, what I would like exploring more, and what this is all going to bring to my future in the long run. 

After this conversation I independently started to think about things in a different way, where Red Cross has already brought me.  I’ve been volunteering for five years now and can honestly say my experiences have made me who I am today and who I want to continue to be in the future.  Through volunteering with the Red Cross I have been able to bring smiles to the faces of children, families, and the people of my community.  As cliche as it sounds, it really has made me realize what is important in life and I’m so grateful for that.

When I was a freshman in high school, first starting off with the Red Cross, I had that one mind changing experience that made me realize what being a Red Cross volunteer meant and why millions of people dedicate countless hours of their time through the organization.  Every year our youth program would adopt families in the community during the holiday season and organize a little party for each of them.  We would decorate the room, make dinner, put on some holiday tunes, and try to make it feel as much like a second home as possible.  Each family would make a wish list (items they each want and moreover need) and then we would invite them to the chapter for dinner, gift opening, and just to also simply spend time with them.  This year I remember a party we had for one family in particular, a young mother with four small children and unknown whereabouts of a father.  The mother spoke very little English, the older children acted as translators, and by older I mean nine or ten. 

It was time for the family to open their gifts. The children anxiously ran to the tree and opened their new clothes, books, and toys.  Their smiles were priceless.  The mother was watching her children with such glee.  Everyone in the room couldn’t help but smile.  I was sitting by the mother as she was opening her gifts and it was while opening one gift in particular that I noticed a strong change in her emotion.  The mother’s dark eyes were wide with expression as she looked up at me with a newly packaged toilet seat in hand.  A tear trickled down her cheek, looking at her children she quickly pushed it away, and smiled.  I smiled back placing my hand on her shoulder.  Although we didn’t speak the same language I knew exactly what was being said and how very much that toilet seat meant to her.  That moment changed me.  I still think about that woman during every service project or event I’m involved with for the Red Cross.  It’s because of situations like that in life that I volunteer for the Red Cross.  It’s easy to take for granted what you have during our crazy lives on a day-to-day basis, but it’s things like volunteering for the Red Cross that makes it easy for me to remember that there is always someone less fortunate then you, in need of your help, and that can teach you something.

That’s why I continue to actively volunteer for the Red Cross everyday and will continue to do for a very long time.  What keeps you volunteering? Think about it.

Bianca Kahlenberg, Florida

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