The Gift of Giving Back

Kalleb - Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Entered on November 15, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community
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It was a bright summer morning, and I had woken up earlier than I had all summer (if 8:30 is considered “early”). My brother and I reluctantly drug ourselves to our father’s car and began the ride to the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen where we had been invited by some of our church members to help work. We were dreading the experience and were even a little scared- the stereotypical idea that a homeless person is always a criminal definitely stuck out in my mind. We arrived after 15 minutes and, upon entering the cafeteria-style dining hall, were immediately greeted by the friendly smile of Gene Croft- a member of our church congregation. He told us how glad he was to see that we had decided to come, and promptly put us to work.

We began to wash and peel potatoes, and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. These were the only jobs that a nine year old could do without assistance, but I felt a strong dedication to the job and once I finished one job, eagerly went asking for another. After doing all the work that they could think of, we began serving the people. As they swiftly went through the assembly line of servers, I felt a sense of great satisfaction as they thanked me for the food. I could see the sense of true gratitude in their eyes, and it gave me an incredible feeling: I was helping others and knew the sense of accomplishment it gives you. From that moment on I realized that my initial dread had turned into an enjoyment of working there.

That day was eight years ago, and I still work their every Tuesday of my summer vacations, although now I actually get to cook instead of peel potatoes. Working at the Salvation Army helped me discover my love of cooking and lets me use it to fill the needs I see in the less fortunate. It also helps me minister to people who otherwise might not be exposed to my belief in Christianity. It has taught me many valuable lessons as well. Some of them are to be more tolerant of people with physical and mental handicaps, and not to judge the integrity of a person based purely on outward appearances. I feel as though through working at the Salvation Army, I am able to give back a portion of the many blessings that I have received throughout my life.