Listening to Wendy – A student’s perspective on service.
Tabor Academy student Wendy Liu accepted the assignment of reporting back on her group’s volunteer experience yesterday. Here is what she had to say – “September 22 may be another mundane Tuesday for most students, but not for those at Tabor. Today was our Service Day which takes place every semester; students and faculty members volunteer in various places, one of which is GiftsToGive.
Some from Tabor have been to GiftsToGive multiple times, while others stepped into the factory for the first time today. Caitlin, a junior to Tabor, is new to this activity. Today she sorted clothes for adults and kids. She recounts that the most difficult part of the job was to decide what to re-cycle because she wanted to “keep everything.” In addition, the day at GiftsToGive has been influential, for she believes that their Directors’ empowering speech makes people “reevaluate [their] circumstance[s]” and rethink how fortunate they are.
Likewise, Brendon, a sophomore, was greatly impacted by the GiftsToGive orientation. A senior volunteer manager during the student orientation asked people to raise their hands if they have access to smartphones, three meals, choice of clothes, and more conditions. Most students raised hands to all of the questions, but millions of kids in the United States do not possess any of the privileges from the list. Brendon describes that Tabor students live in the affluent culture that readily traps people in the “Tabor bubble,” not fully comprehending the reality of “how the rest of the world lives.” After Brendon illustrates such “cultural shock,” he continues to sort clothes for boys and girls. Brendon has found volunteering at GiftsToGive to be interesting, as he considers it a fun activity to do on weekends and has decided to fulfill his community service hours here.
At the other side of this section of the factory, Trinity cleaned and made complete sets of toys. Coming to GiftsToGive has had a strong effect on her. She lives in New Bedford, but she has gone to small private schools, thereby not having had encountered much of the poverty; “hearing more than seeing” forms her image of the underprivileged kids. However, hearing the statistics of what poverty really was and thinking about how so many kids rely on the donations makes “everything seem more real.”
There was one person who stayed outdoors instead of inside the warehouse – Ms. Henshaw. She, a fan of gardening, was putting gardens to bed, preparing them for the winter. The gardens are raised beds, or contained gardens, which control the moisture. Peppers and tomatoes are grown here, but now Ms. Henshaw has planted bulbs, daffodils and tulips. They will bloom as the “surprise in spring” and beautify the exterior of the factory.
Spending a morning at GiftsToGive has given an opportunity for the Tabor community to take a closer look at the poignant truth of poverty and make a slight yet perceivable difference to New Bedford families.”