For me, helping children is the most rewarding form of giving back — the smile on those faces gets me every time.
It is because of this, that I would volunteer at a local elementary school in Ithaca, NY through a program at Cornell. After a long day of class, and when I probably should have been studying, I would go to Fall Creek Elementary and help the kids as they poured over their math homework, struggling with addition and subtraction, read to them in the cozy reading corner, and my favorite part of all — play with them outside as the kids whose parents had to work late would wait for them to come pick them up.
The kids were always excited to see the college kids come down the hill and hang out with them. And I was just as excited to hang out with them. By far my favorite experience with them was outside of the school, and volunteering through Into the Streets, Cornell’s largest day of service (which that year was headed by my roommate) and teaching the kids I knew from the school about nature and conservation at a Halloween event at a local nature center (pictured).
I have always preferred being hands-on in the community to fundraising. It’s far more rewarding. While I have spent time walking for March of Dimes — my best friend was born premature and educated all of us on the importance of what March of Dimes does and the work they did for her — and raising money for the Boys & Girls club — I like to see funds in action.
One of the greatest volunteer experiences of my life was watching underprivileged children open Christmas gifts they would never have received without the aid of generous people in the community — many of which I encouraged to donate. Watching a little boy open a brand new truck I picked out, when he isn’t used to having anything new, and of his own, is a beautiful and rewarding experience. While I love giving anyone a gift, there is something insanely special about giving a gift to a kid that doesn’t necessarily understand why he is getting something from a total stranger, but appreciates it and gives you a huge hug (before he runs off to play with it).
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kleenex via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kleenex.