115 Old Rochester Regional Junior High School students spent last Thursday and Friday with us. We ask each group for a “journalist” to write about their experience.  Rather than our writing their story, they did. Student Chloe Bean had this to say:

“When I first found out that my 8th grade class was going to take a field trip to GiftsToGive, I was excited, but a little unsure of how we’d be helping out. What I learned is that at GiftsToGive, there are new donations being dropped off everyday, and therefore, there is always a job to be done. Many of my classmates were doing tasks like sorting and folding clothes, cataloging comic books and deciding their age levels, checking for missing pieces in puzzles and games, and even cleaning and dressing toy dolls. I helped out by cleaning toys and sorting them into boxes by category, and interviewing my classmates about their experience of the day in order to write this article.

Although GiftsToGive has a group of about sixty regular volunteers, a big part of why they are able to continue is because of the kids who come on field trips each week to do work like we did on our field trip. All of this work is making a big difference for the many children experiencing poverty in our area of the south coast. I learned that there are about 80,000 children living in poverty in our area, and that 10% of these children are homeless. Lots of them also end up skipping school because they are embarrassed by the clothes they have to wear. I find this really upsetting, because none of them did anything to deserve the life they have,  just like how the more fortunate children of the world did nothing to deserve the privileges they are able to have. So, it made me feel really great to see how much effort the volunteers at GiftsToGive make in order to provide these children and people in poverty with nice looking, clean, high quality items, so that they might have a better day, and a greater sense of pride.

In addition to this hard work GiftsToGive goes through to provide children in need with clothes, toys, and supplies, they have started a program to serve good food made with hydroponic vegetables they are growing, through a new kitchen and event space within the building. GiftsToGive also has a thrift shop open on Saturdays, where they sell adult clothing. All of the proceeds from the shop go back to the organization, making it possible for them to expand their work and mission.

To see what other people thought about this experience, I interviewed a few of my classmates. Many of them thought that the organization would be a lot smaller, and that there would be fewer people helping out with the donations. But, as Mackenzye Caton said, “…it’s actually like a community, and lots of people come here to do good. And it’s nice!” Theo Jacobsen shared, “I expected it just to be boxing things and making care packages,” but he ended up determining the age level of comic books, which he liked. Others were surprised at how organized the building was considering all the toys, clothes, and other items they receive every day, and at how thoughtful the team of volunteers were to make sure that every package for the children had been inspected and cleaned with love and care. Hanna Whalley found the trip to be “…really informing,” and thought that “…it helped us become more aware.”

I’m glad that I was able to learn about the hard lives of some people in our area, and I’m glad that I was able to help out with the GiftsToGive mission of making those people’s lives a little bit better. I think that it is very important for people to be aware of this situation, and to be informed about places like GiftsToGive, so that they can donate or volunteer, as every little bit of support can make a huge difference. I liked how one of their senior volunteers, put it – when he told us that part of his goal was to, “depress us a little bit, and to inspire us a lot.” I think that having that mindset will allow our generation to fix not only poverty, but many other problems the world is facing right now, because only after people have grasped the urgency and severity of these problems will they be able to make a difference.”

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