What I Learned From Community Service
Many American teenagers are involved in community service. Community service is when you volunteer your time to help other people, usually people you don’t know. The motivations of teen volunteers may vary, but common reasons for teen involvement include: social connections (students volunteer together as part of a school or club activity), altruism, religion, and because it looks good on applications for universities. My motivation was a little different. A platter of sandwiches motivated me…
One Friday afternoon, the cafeteria staff at my school set out a platter of sandwiches. They were free for students to take because they would spoil over the weekend if they weren’t consumed. I saw one girl taking about six or seven sandwiches and I asked her why. She said she was taking the sandwiches home so that she and her brother would have something to eat on Saturday. This surprised me because I thought our school was fairly affluent and it inspired me to start a program to reduce child hunger in my community.
I named the program “Sow More, Grow More.” I asked farmers and gardeners to sow more fruits and vegetables, so they would have surplus produce to donate at harvest. The program operates during the summer months when low-income students do not have access to free- and reduced-price school meals because schools are closed. “Sow More, Grow More” is now in its third year, and to date we’ve received 1,400 pounds of donated produce and served 2,200 families.
The simplicity of this idea has attracted attention. I received several national honors such as the Congressional Gold Award and was chosen as one of the Girl Scouts’ National Young Women of Distinction. However, what I learned from community service is even more important. I learned that I don’t have to ask permission to solve a problem. I learned that I could take an idea from start to finish and collaborate with others to make our community stronger. I learned that one person with passion can inspire an entire community. I learned leadership through service.
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