This I Believe

Kristie - Tarzana, California
Entered on August 30, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in the gift of giving.

In 3rd grade, I participated in a program that served Thanksgiving meals to senior citizens. As an eight-year old, I thought of this charity service as nothing but fun. At the time, I did not realize that my “fun” activity would also have a positive effect on less fortunate others. While I was serving the turkey dinners, the senior citizens were very eager to have conversations with me. After talking to them, I learned that many of them had been neglected by their family members and were very lonely. Thanksgiving was the only day that they were able to get out of the retirement home, and they looked forward to this day every year. The senior citizens were happy and grateful for our prescence because not only did we keep them company, we also helped bring back memories. I remember how excited one of the ladies was when she discovered that she used to be a teacher at the school I was attending. She was eager to share stories of her days at that school with me, and reminded me several times to tell my teachers she had said hello. At the end of the day, the people I had served thanked me continuously for taking the time to do something nice for them. I was surprised how much they appreciated my service. As I look back, I am proud and touched that I was able to make people feel good.

During the holiday seasons of my 7th and 8th grade years, I visited an old-age home with my show choir. We sang and danced a holiday program for elderly people. To be honest, seeing a roomful of people in walkers, wheelchairs, and attached to IV’s frightened me a little, but after our performance, my fright transformed into joy as our audience smiled and clapped with as much energy as their trembling bodies would allow them, in spite of how ill and weak most of them looked. The reactions of these people made me feel so good because I knew that I had made a roomful of senior citizens happy. Because of this, I was eager to return to the retirement home the following year to do the same thing.

During moments like those, I was able to grasp the true concept of giving: not only does the recipient benefit, the person who gives is also rewarded. While my company brightened the day of a group of lonely people, it was undoubtedly rewarding for me as well since I was able to accomplish something by bringing a smile to someone’s face.

Ever since I was little, I was taught that giving is important. “Giving doesn’t have to be something big or extravagant,” my mother would say. “Giving can be anything. And by giving, you will be happy because you made someone else happy.”

Gradually, I have discovered that she is right. By giving to others, I lose nothing; rather, I gain because I often feel fulfilled, knowing that I have improved someone’s day. A mere greeting or smile can go a long way. Old clothes or toys that may seem useless to me might just be treasures to a less fortunate family. If everyone were to give a little bit, the world would be a better and more beautiful place. This, I believe.