Blake - Billings, Montana
Entered on May 20, 2013
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The story begins one early spring morning when an unexpected snow storm hit the town where I’m from. The wet snow continued to fall until the next morning, draping the trees and buildings in a heavy blanket of snow that seemed to push down on everything it covered. Although my town was accustomed to snowfall, the trees were not. They had just started to bring forth leaves in preparation for spring and the extra weight of the heavy snow soon resulted in branches breaking off and even whole trees toppling over.

That same evening my local church group had a youth activity that I was looking forward to attending. As my family and I piled into our family car, I could see out the window the many tree branches and sometimes whole trees that littered people’s yards. I was thankful that nothing had happened at our own home. As we arrived, it was announced that we would forgo the activity and instead, go around the neighborhood to help clean up trees that had fallen down. I was devastated. I had been really excited for this activity and now I had to stand out in the cold and pick up twigs in random people’s yards! Taking a pair of gloves that were handed to me, I unwillingly followed as we went out into the chilly evening air and arrived at the first house.

The surprise in the mother’s face as she opened the door to see a group of her neighbors with chainsaws and tree cutters at her door was obvious. As we explained our reason for coming she grew quiet for a moment then said, “Thank God you’ve come. A tree in our backyard has fallen over and we don’t have the money to pay someone to cut it up and take it away. My husband and I didn’t know what we were going to do.” Her honest expression of thanks for our help stunned me and a new feeling started to replace the unwillingness that had existed in my heart.

I felt a smile spread across my face and warmth seep through my fingers as the woman directed us to the backyard where we found the tree lying across her lawn. We went right to work cutting up the tree and transporting the pieces to a trailer someone had brought to haul them away. We quickly finished the tree and said our good byes to the family we were helping and moved on to the next house.

When we were forced to stop because of the darkness of night I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that we had to finish. As we drove home my father turned to me and said, “Now, wasn’t that fun?” Smiling I replied with a resounding, “Yes”. To this very day I believe in the joy that comes from selfless service to those around us and hope to continue to provide charity for as long as I live.