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The Little Things

Front of Gothic revival church next to row houses

The Little Things

When Dr. McCarthy informed us that for our English class, we would do a service trip, I was one of the few that was relatively calm about it. I didn't worry about where I would be performing the service or how it would fit into my class schedule, because I already had a place in mind: Church of the Ascension.

This church was connected to my middle school - Ascension School - and had been a prominent place throughout my childhood and adolescence. It was the place that the school made us go to mandatory mass every few weeks. It was the place where teachers picked me to do readings or help carry the "Blood of Christ" and the "Body of Christ" up to the priest. It was also the place, my grandmother had been volunteering at since I was an infant. 

So, it was fitting that I do my service trip there. 

Now, even though I was calm, I was still annoyed. Thoughts like "what does a service trip have to do with English?" ran through my mind. I was a little annoyed that I had to "waste" a day of my life doing service I'd never think about again. 

I called my grandmother, who had helped me get a spot volunteering at her church, and told her I would only be there for a few hours. No more, no less. It was selfish, but I only wanted to get the needed experience and then leave. But it was during my first Saturday working there, during my first time helping my grandmother set up cots provided by the church in the school's cafeteria, during my first time helping my grandmother and the other volunteers cook the food we would later serve to those in need, that I saw the world in a new light. I saw that there were people, that for whatever reason, needed help from us. From me, a girl who just wanted to get "her stupid service trip" over with.

I don't know what changed my opinions that day. Was it the fact that I had went in, angry about my day going to waste, only to see an old woman thank me for the food, tears in her eyes as she called me an angel? Was it the fact that numerous people, all of the different ages, colors, and backgrounds, were lining up to get a meal and a place to stay the night? Was it the fact that when I was helping the other volunteers pack everything up, this small girl no older than 6, the age of my youngest cousin, hugged me from behind and thanked me for the bed and meal for "her mommy and her"? 

I don't really know. 

But what I do know, is that I ended up spending the whole day there, helping. 

Not only did I end up leaving with enough experience to write about hunger and food insecurity, I ended up leaving the church with a new perspective. In such a meaningful way, I had changed just a little. 

Now, every time I go back to New York for break or for a weekend visit, I stop by the Church whenever I can. I cook with my grandmother from sunrise, set up the cots by noon, feed those that come by evening, and leave before it gets too dark. 

Because in this world, it's the little things you do that matter the most.