I started volunteering at The Friendship Center when I was four years old. My dad is a teacher, and I volunteer with him in the summer. Once COVID hit, volunteering obviously stopped, but this summer I started to look into coming back. Like a lot of places, there are age restrictions, but then I saw the Summer Sorters program on Fridays for kids 11 and up. I kinda forced my parents to sign me up!
I immediately loved it. It combines the good feeling that comes from helping people, and organizing, which I love to do. While clients are finishing shopping, we kids are preparing and sorting other things. This includes what is going on the shelves, making boxes for home delivery the next day, organizing pet food for the third Saturday of the month Pet Food Pantry, grinding coffee, or – my favorite – peeling a scratched-up protective coating off of a steel table. (I know that last one sounds weird, but it’s great to do when you are waiting and is very satisfying!) Once the front shopping area is open, we restock the shelves with everything they need from the back, from fresh produce to food rescue pastries to toiletries and more. We end up laughing with each other by the end of the two-hour shift, even if we just met.
After a couple weeks of Summer Sorters, I asked Karen if there were other times I could help out. I filled out a volunteer form, and I’m now an official volunteer. I even helped cook dinner this month! I now sign up for shifts on their great volunteer website. You can see what shifts are open at what times and what a shift entails.
I find volunteering – especially at The Friendship Center – to be a very rewarding experience. My parents have raised me to do my best to always help others. One thing in particular is that no matter what happens, you are in no way, shape, or form better than who you are giving a helping hand to. In a lot of cases, someone has just hit a hard time and is otherwise no different than anyone else.
I always feel good afterwards because volunteering gives me a purpose and something to focus on. In this crazy world where you can feel so helpless, it is always good to find something to ground you, that helps you ignore everything else and focus on what you are doing. And in volunteering at The Friendship Center, you know that you’re not just helping yourself but your neighbors as well.
About the Author:
Cora is a soon-to-be 7th grader at a local elementary school. She lives in the neighborhood with her parents (her mom, Kelly, is a Friendship Center board member) and their adorable dog, Scotch.