Freetown-Lakeville Middle School, 7th Grade

We recently hosted the 7th Grade from Freetown-Lakeville Middle School. We could tell you what the experience was like for us, but student journalist Lucas E. Quinn sent us this essay and the photos are by student photographer Julie Medeiros. (Photos from their visits are here.)

” Rows upon rows of shelves lined the walls. Everything on those shelves had been donated from someone like us. Colorful toys were being cleaned and fixed and given new life, so that more families in poverty would have something to look forward to. This was the view I took in when I first walked into the factory known as GiftsToGive.

Hello, I am journalist Lucas E. Quinn, along with photographer Julie Medeiros, and on Friday, March 23rd, 2018, over 100 of our fellow members, of the Freetown-Lakeville Middle School’s 7th grade took part in a truly extraordinary experience. Who knew that an organization so magnificent could take place in the small town of Acushnet, Massachusetts. And let me just say that this was not at all what I was expecting out of a middle school field trip.

GiftsToGive is an ingenious solution to the problem that some volunteer work just isn’t fun. It is run by over 40 grandparents that work for free. The premise is that the workers and volunteers refurbish, recycle, and reuse the donations, put them into care packages ordered by social workers and school nurses. The workers get a whopping 20,000 pounds of donations a week, and with the help of volunteers, they can refurbish something old and give it to a family that really needs it, free of charge. Since this experience is so thrilling, though, there were over 13,000 student volunteers last year, ready to give kids in poverty something to look forward to.

The cool part about the donations is that, if someone donates something that isn’t complete, like a 50 piece puzzle with 43 pieces, the enormous range of toys already there means that there can be two options. Either they might be able to find another puzzle of the same sort and finish that one with the other’s pieces, or they can store it until someone else donates one. Another interesting part about the donations is that you never know what you’re going to be working on. You could be in the clothes department and find a biker jacket, (one of my classmates actually did) or you could be in the toy department and find something amazing that you’ve never seen before. The variety is one of the things that makes GiftsToGive so interesting.

To be completely honest, I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in. Walking out, though, I felt enlightened. I had a new understanding of what poverty was and how many kids across America were affected by it, and how I could really make a difference in so many people’s lives if I just believed that I could. After asking some of my classmates about their thoughts, I knew that the feeling was mutual. One of my classmates, Brian Emerson, was in the receiving department, and after the field trip was over, he told me that it was the “best volunteer work he had done so far in his life.” Patrick Stone, another of my classmates, told me that he would “like to come back,” and even told me that he would be happy leaving his sweatshirt there on purpose so that it could get donated. Corey Swenson, who had to try and put together a mini skeleton toy that didn’t have all of the pieces, still said he enjoyed his time, as did Aiden Miller, who spent time folding clothes in the clothing department.

To conclude, GiftsToGive was nothing what I was expecting, but that was what I enjoyed about it. It was something new, and I’m sure that I will be coming back and donating for years to come.”

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