Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Upon volunteering for a Christmas toy drive, I anticipated that I would be greatly impacted by those who would attend to receive toys for their children. As in any volunteer situation, the objective is to serve the people to the best of our ability in order to help them. I was unprepared for the amount that this volunteer opportunity would help me as well.
It has often been said to me that there is always someone in the world that is worse off than I am, and this outreach really made that perspective more authentic. As a volunteer with my high school's Student Council, we were given the opportunity to escort attendees of the outreach and aid them in picking out various gifts for their children's Christmas presents. When a woman named Tanya approached me, I could tell immediately that she was exhausted, but her sagging shoulders and tired eyes contrasted her warm smile that she offered as she extended her hand in greeting. As we began to walk towards the toys, she informed me that she was a widowed mother of five children at home, and this would be the first Christmas in three years that she would have toys to give them. Her story began to inspire me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The most amazing aspect of Tanya was the joy that seemed to ooze from her every word. Regardless of her circumstances, she was thankful for what she did have, and the degree with which she walked this out was something unfamiliar to me. In more ways than one, she reminded me of my own mother, and I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to help this woman in whatever way possible. We scoured the toy tables in an attempt to find the perfect gift for each of her children, and with each passing moment she thanked me profusely.
As she gathered her things to leave, she embraced me tightly and continued to thank me. She reminded me that this will mean the world to her children, and that she could not even begin to describe how much my help meant to her. I smiled with tears in my eyes when she had gone, embarrassed of how little my scope on life is. While I am concerned with how I plan on paying for gas money to get to and from volleyball practice, this woman waits at bus stops in subzero weather to get to one of her three current jobs.
This firsthand experience gave me the perspective I needed to view everyone around me equally; we all are broken. Although I have had struggles, I am not alone in that category. My goal should be to help those who are struggling as well, and support them to keep chasing after their dreams. My encounter with Tanya showed me that I could use my life story to lend a hand and make a difference.