My community service became consistent when I moved to Florida. Bring at a new high school and not knowing anyone, I decided to dedicate some of my time to helping those in need. I started by becoming a part of the Baker Buddies class, helping to assist the learning of special needs kids in my school. I then started going every Thursday to The Vineyard church to serve food to the homeless. Once I moved to college I began volunteering with the members of my fraternity and fundraising towards SOS Children's Villages.
When I first started this class, communicating with the kids was a little awkward. I tried being nice, and after a few days connected with them by guiding their actions to complete their projects, such as art projects and spelling/math assignments. After breaking the ice I started talking to them and got along with every kid in the class. With my help, one of the girls, Mary, ended up leaving the class because she advanced to the next level of the program. Working with them helped me gain a complete understanding of just how lucky I am to be me and also how kind and compassionate other people can be. In the end these kids were the nicest I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Although they were very rowdy at times, as most classrooms are, working with them was a pleasure.
Every Wednesday from 5-10pm I went, rather with friends or alone, to the Vineyard Church to serve food to the less fortunate. The first task at hand was always to roll silverware and set up tables and chairs in preparation for dinner. Second we organized groceries into packages which would be distributed to the attendees after dinner. Third we were in charge of serving dinner, which was made by other volunteers, to the people who were already seated throughout the service area in the church. After serving dinner we always went out and sat with the people we served food to and tried to have quality conversations with them. During this time the pastor would do his sermon for the day as we ate and listened. Afterwards we went back into the kitchen and started to grab grocery bags for distribution. Once all the bags were given out, the work was done and all that was left to do was talk with all those still there at that point, play with the kids, and go home. Although it was a lot of work, the happiness of the kids as they played, the gratitude of the people we served, and the joy of the other volunteers made the experience very enjoyable and rewarding.
Every month, the brothers of my fraternity go out to SW 34th Street in Gainesville FL with orange jackets, reachers, and trash bags to go pick up trash on the side of the road. Every cleanup we fill up about two full trash bags with items that have been irresponsibly thrown out of the windows of cars onto the side of the road. Out in the sun every first Sunday of the month is not a fun job, neither is picking up bags of dog waste, beer bottles, and any other lovely items we happen to come across. It saddens me how much trash is just thrown onto the side of the road, but knowing I have other people that will help me better society gives me hope and drives me to keep giving back.
Before this event we approached Elite Towing with the intent of having them donate a car in exchange for publicity so that we could use the car to make money for SOS Children’s Villages. After they agreed to give us one of their junk cars, we brought it back to one of the brother’s houses and spray painted it with FSU colors in order to stir the rivalry present in all gator fans. We brought the car to the central plaza and charged for people to use sledgehammers on the car (after removing all gasoline and glass.) The event was such a hit it was showcased in The Alligator newspaper on campus. We raised over $250 in one day.
Shave to Save
Every year we throw a fundraiser and the person that gets the most amount of money donated under their name gets their head shaved, or if we hit our goal we all shave our heads. We gave out flyers on campus to try to raise awareness and rewarded people that donated with free SOS t-shirts and sunglasses. We did not hit our goal, but still raised over $300 over the course of a week.