Service Before Self | Teen Ink

Service Before Self

January 18, 2011
By Victoria Bowman BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
Victoria Bowman BRONZE, Phoenix, Arizona
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

I needed ten community service hours. This meant I had to waste ten hours of my time helping out strangers. At first, skeptical, I loathed the idea of spending the day working voluntarily, but when my third hour honors algebra 2 class decided to take our school’s annual food drive to the next level, I decided it might be fun.

My classmate, Katy, came up with the idea of walking door to door in neighborhoods near our school in a group effort to collect cans and raise money for the hungry people at St. Mary’s Food Bank As the date got nearer, my friend and I began planning further to make the event more enjoyable. A total of ten people volunteered to meet Katy and me at the decided meeting location. Katy and I showed up at the same exact time and we waited a total of twenty minutes for the rest of our group to arrive. No one showed up.

Discouraged, we decided to proceed with the collection alone. The first couple of houses did not answer their doors, though their parked cars stood immobile in the filled driveways. We continued through the neighborhood. Now and again a man or woman would donate a can or two, but it wasn’t until one very generous man gave us a bag filled to the brim with cans and then handed us a twenty dollar bill. We were so thankful that our walking was beginning to pay off. Katy thanked the man and he seemed surprised when we told him that he had been the most generous donator of the day, thus far.

Enlightened, we continued on our way, and we began to get more donations; people seemed eager to help us, though we had interrupted their Sunday afternoon. Just as we were making great progress, the sky growled and the clouds shuddered, shaking icy droplets of water on top of us and our cans. It was early November, in Phoenix, and this weather wasn’t common, so neither of us had worn sweaters. We huddled under a kind old woman’s porch and tried to wait out the rain. We covered our boxes with plastic bags and continued when we realized the rain wasn’t going to stop. Running across the street, like birds fleeing from a falling tree, to make it to the next houses, Katy and I laughed. We had such bad luck! My thin, short sleeved shirt clung to my torso as the rain continued. My new suede Vans filled with water as the puddles I walked through betrayed me. Katy’s square-framed became as foggy as a steamy bathroom window, hiding her dark almond shaped eyes. We knew how terrible we looked when we rang the next door bell and the woman who answered it looked shocked. She emptied her pantry to donate to our cause. We were making progress.
Soon after, the rain died down, but our frizzy hair and damp jeans told everyone that we’d been in the rain. Our cart full of cans and donations got harder to push, and we sat down on a drying curb for a break when and old friend of mine appeared. Mr. Moore is a wonderful man who has always been a contributor and helper to our school’s music programs. I had met him my freshman year when I went to a regional festival for orchestra. He was always kind and I continued to see him through the next two years of my high school career aiding and helping our Purple Pride Marching Band.
Mr. Moore asked Katy and me what we were doing on the cold fall afternoon with a cart filled with canned goods. We explained our cause and, as an incredible photographer, he had his hi-tech camera with him. His wife and twenty-something daughter helped him find the right angle to take our picture at. We stood in the middle of a calm road standing behind our cart, wet, frizzy, but happy. Our smiles were plastered across our face as he took our picture. Soon after we pleasantly exchanged good-byes and he handed us all the change in his pocket and gave us his address in case we wanted to stop by later to retrieve cans. We continued collecting for a few more hours until we returned to our separate homes.
That night, I logged onto my Facebook account, and searched for Mr. Moore. I found him easily and added him as my friend. Once he accepted, about ten minutes later, I went to his profile. On his wall, he had posted a picture. The picture was of me and Katy. We stood proudly behind our cart and the caption read “These two students of Washington High School spent this wet Sunday afternoon collecting donations for St. Mary’s Food Bank instead of lounging on their couches watching the football game.” I was tagged in the photo, so I also tagged Katy so she could see how much we truly accomplished. Not only did we raise over 100 cans and $100, we inspired the rest of our third hour class to bring in cans to create a total of 130 cans and $200. Our class raised the most out of the entire school. Although I did not get to lounge around on my weekend, I got a chance to become an inspiration to my class, and every individual who viewed our picture that my good friend Mr. Moore posted. The ‘wasted’ hours were more than worth it to all the people at St. Mary’s and thus, more worth it to Katy and me.

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