This I Believe

Ryan - Taylor, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 17, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that the small things do add up, that the minutest instances of charity, or participation, really do matter.

As a high school senior, the state of Pennsylvania requires each student to complete a volunteer project to graduate. I, in an admittedly random, meaningless fashion, chose to volunteer at the Red Cross. I had seen most of those corny videotapes from decades past – the ones with fake blood, bad scripts and volunteer actors begging for a blood donation or a monetary gift. Never had I taken them to heart, though. Never had I been affected by the situations these videos portrayed.

It was on my second stint of volunteer work that I gave blood.

“Why do this?” I asked myself. “It’s going to hurt and it’s definitely not worth it.” Nevertheless, I donated the blood, recovered at the snack stand and continued with my everyday existence.

After that, I would occasionally volunteer time or give blood. I didn’t really appreciate the value of what I was doing until my mom started to feel sick. To be safe, she went to the doctor for the regular rundown of exams. When her results came back, we were all pretty surprised. They found some irregular growths that needed biopsies and further examinations.

“Wait isn’t that a cancer check, mom?” I asked, my utter surprise replacing any appropriate sensitivity. I couldn’t believe that something like this could affect my life. Only a few minutes later, my phone rang. It was the Red Cross and they wanted to know if I’d be willing to volunteer again. Like usual, I said yes, but this time I had to stop and think. I thought of all the people who had to deal with things much worse than what I had to deal with. I thought of what happened to my blood after I donated it and the affect of my volunteer hours.

If things turned out poorly, my mom could’ve ended up as one of those sickly people in need of blood. So, for the first time, I told Jenny, the PR person, yes- with meaning. I had a whole weekend to dwell on the possibilities before my mom’s results were in. Thank God, there was nothing seriously wrong with her, but from this brief scare, I understand why the Red Cross makes those corny, contrived videos. Volunteerism may go unnoticed, but it is never unappreciated.