Eden Abernethy - Grade 9, Chaminade Julienne High School
To Make a Stranger Smile
It was a Tuesday afternoon, a light drizzle fell from the sky and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. However, I had signed up to do service hours after school, and people were counting on me to go. My friend, who was also in a bad mood, rode with me to a small church and went inside. The leaders of the program put us right to work. I was moved to the food line as people started coming in to receive a free meal. They would ask for certain food items, which we would then put on their trays.
When everyone had been served, my friend and I went around passing out socks to the variety of people that were there. There were people of all different sexes, races, and ages, but they were all needy and thankful regardless. I realized how lucky I was compared to these people. These people were humans just like me. I decided that I was going to be happy because maybe it would make these people feel better, and because I had no right to be upset serving those who needed help.
The volunteers got to eat after everyone received seconds. My friend saw a seemingly lonely and sad old woman sitting by herself in the back and sat with her, so I followed. We began eating our chili and chatting with this thin old woman. She was very friendly and seemed delighted to have someone to talk to.
My kindness and her loneliness led her to opening up. I got to hear a bit of her story. Just little pieces at a time that she ran by us briefly. She was giving my friend and I advice, and she had said, “You have to go to college, get a job and be independent. Those men are no good,” she laughed. “Sometimes women who are stay-at-home moms end up getting stranded without a job or money.” She had a bitter tone when she said this which led me to believe that had happened to her. She said that she had been a single mother. While she was talking I noticed a cart that had plastic bags in it full of various necessities. I realized that this was probably all her belongings.
Just from my cheery attitude I think I made her day better. My friend and I had to leave her after we finished eating to clean up. We said goodbye to her and she said happily, “It was nice talking to you girls!” I realized that if you just choose to be happy, you can make someone’s day. I think that I will choose to be happy more often in the future. That day was very eye opening to me, and I think I will go back and volunteer there more often. I want to make more people happy, and to do that I have to start with being happy myself.