Friday, December 18, 2015

Ringing Bells

The semester has finally come to an end and I couldn't be happier. One of the classes that I took over the past 3 or so months was 'Psychology of Human Relations'. Back in August when I was signing up for classes I was reading through the descriptions of each class to see if it intrigued me and if I could handle the course load, since I'd also be working throughout the semester. When I stumbled upon this course I was immediately interested, however, when I was skimming through the requirements, I noticed that instead of a Final exam we had to perform a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer work... Oh no, I thought to myself; how will I be able to pull this off? I began to think of excuses to get out of it, since I was brand new to the location and had no idea of where to even begin looking for opportunities. I took the class anyway even though I knew at the back of my mind that I probably wasn't going to be able to do 10 hours of community service. How will I find a reoccurring event that will fit within my busy schedule? Not to mention the fact that my anxiety will most likely prevent me from doing something out of my comfort zone. As weeks passed by I grew more and more concerned about our final project. I tried reaching out to my professor, but she replied with "did you check the United Way website?" .. Why yes, I've checked every week since school started but still nothing works.

I almost gave up hope until I talked to an old friend who recommended going through the Salvation Army and volunteer as a Bell Ringer. I immediately looked into it and it was perfect; it fit my schedule, the shifts were short, and I didn't have to worry about traveling somewhere I didn't know since there were so many locations throughout the city. I picked out 5 shifts that fit within my schedule and the worry went away. I knew that this form of volunteer work would help keep my anxiety levels low. Even though this wasn't a direct form of helping someone; as in face to face, or one-on-one, I knew that my time was well appreciated and a small 2 hour shift helped raise money for those in need.

My job was simple: Stand next to the kettle, smile, and keeping ringing those bells. I’m sure you’ve seen these people scattered throughout the city, standing in front of stores ringing those obnoxious bells. But I assure you, the noise those tiny bells make are impacting lives in so many ways.

It was truly heartwarming to see people stop and donate, often holding people up just so they could scrape the bottom of their purse for loose change, or dig in their wallets to find a dollar bill. I was grateful for every bit of money that went into the bucket - even those who donated a penny made me smile. I couldn’t believe the generosity of some people, and don’t even get me started on the comments; they were all filled with gratitude. It was truly wonderful, even though I got sore from standing in the same place for 4 hours and shaking bells non-stop; it was well worth it! I was fortunate to be positioned inside, but I was still next to the entry where every once and awhile I got hit with a burst of cold air. I hate being cold and I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if I was outside for all of my shifts. But then I started to think about all of the homeless people forced to live outdoors, having to face the harsh winter elements that the midwest produces. The way I see it, is if they can handle the cold 24/7 I can stand it for a short 2 hour shift; in the end, being cold is well worth it knowing that I am making a difference in my community. 

After performing my 10 hours of community service I felt good, really good. After every shift I came to realize how much power that one shift can have, and I am ecstatic to have helped even the slightest. It really makes you appreciate everything you have; including a roof over your head. I think that a lot of people take the small stuff for granted. After performing my community service, I started look at my life differently. Sure I might be a college student with  just enough money to pay the bills each month, but I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my fridge. I think that helping one another is something so incredible and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience this; it has made me look at life differently and has had an effect on my thoughts and actions.

When it comes to my future, I ultimately want to help people and give back to the community. I want to make a difference in the world and if I can, try to inspire at least one person. This small class project, was another push in the right direction; a confirmation that this is my calling. 

I think that if we all donate something someway or another, this world would be a better place. If you can't donate money, you can always donate your time. I highly recommend it. 

"The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do."
Much Love! Xx

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