Kids Will Be Kids – But Not Always!
We hosted a terrific group of students this week, from our neighborhood school, The Albert F. Ford Middle School in Acushnet. One hundred-eleven 7th graders. They arrived full of energy and curiosity and left tired, proud and with an enduring understanding of how very lucky they were. Tired from all the work they did. Proud of what they accomplished and with a new sense of their place in the world, of their responsibility to themselves and to help others.
We asked if one of the students would report back to us about their experience. Here is what student Elizabeth Teixeira had to say –
“My GiftsToGive Experience” by Elizabeth Teixeira
“On Wednesday June 17, my seventh grade class from Ford Middle School took a field trip to GiftsToGive in Acushnet. Before this field trip, I knew about this organization and their purpose, but I knew nothing of the amount of care and work put into providing children living in poverty with a reprieve. I had envisioned a small facility with a few volunteers helping out, but I was immediately proven wrong about the GiftsToGive I had been imagining.
As soon as my classmates and I arrived, we were greeted with smiles and polite hellos from everyone working there. We all sat down and were given an orientation by a staffer who spoke to us deeply about the amount of children living in poverty in our country and how we could impact the lives of these kids. We learned that over 24 million American children live in poverty and 40,000 lived on the south-coast of Massachusetts. We were asked a variety of questions to help us imagine how these children live. It got us thinking about how lucky we really are and the privileges we take for granted. We were assured that there was a job for everyone and that there were so many areas in which to contribute our time.
We then toured their large space, where we learned each step of the donation process. Each item is inspected and cleaned various times, and hundreds of volunteers touch each item that is given to a child in-need. We were able to meet the volunteers responsible for these jobs, and we saw that someone of any age can participate in this form of charity. We were given examples of the kind of gift packages that are sent out to help kids living in poverty. Each package has a paper with information describing its recipient including their age, interests, size, and living conditions. One paper spoke of a mother and her three young daughters who were in need of help, and were being sent packages of clothes, toys, and books. Although I knew it wouldn’t change their life, it warmed my heart to think of how the family’s day would be made when they were sent their gift. At that moment, I realized the importance of volunteering and I couldn’t wait to begin.
Some of my classmates were sent to clean toys, some to inspect clothing, and others to separate clothes into sizes. I was sent to separate clothes, and I spent two hours going through boxes of miscellaneous donations. As the two hours passed, I grew more appreciative of those who volunteer regularly. The job was not hard, but I could see my peers and I beginning to grow tired near the end of our time. During the job, I was in awe seeing the amount of clothing people donate. It made me grateful for the generous families that help out in their community. They are willing to give up a toy here and there or even just a pair of shoes that they grew out of. I have learned that every little bit of what you donate is significant.
At the end of our fun work experience at GiftsToGive, my whole grade gathered to take a picture together. We had another discussion about the extensive impact of the two hours we spent volunteering. We learned that just about 50 packages could be sent to the kids who needed them using the collective effort we had put in.
We learned that even as a child, each one of us could make a difference. Leaving this field trip, every student of the seventh grade had a new point of view on the world we were living in and the changes we could make. I felt a sense of accomplishment leaving this charity knowing that my peers and I had worked together to better our community. The most important lesson I learned was that no matter how short, one of the greatest gifts to give is our time.”
Elizabeth Teixeira, Gr.7