By Clinton Dick
My feet hurt after a day of working. In fact, wouldn’t you most likely find aches and pains all over your body if you just came home from a day of picking up trash or packaging food? You’re tired, dirty, and probably a little stinky too. You have to make a serious decision whether or not to throw away the sweat-stained shirt you have on. If collapsing on the bed didn’t mean falling into a sleep-induced coma, you would do it in a heartbeat. So why do so many of us work for the benefit of others and slave away to participate in community service?
I don’t consider myself a community service guru, but thanks to many of the organizations I have been involved in, community service has become an important part of my life.
Oct. 2, I participated in the Numana project on campus to help feed the starving in the Horn of Africa. I was in the cafeteria for almost six hours straight. I could have complained about the work ahead, or not gotten up that morning, but I didn’t. My goal was to get through the day’s work, and set my sights on something other than myself.
There is a feeling that you get when you do something extraordinary. It is a sensation of self-accomplishment and that you just did something that is going to change a close friend’s or a complete stranger’s life for the better. There were over 30,000 meals packaged at the Numana event, and it might not be enough to end the famine in Africa, but it shows what can be done with a little time.
But what do we get out of it? I mean to say, we generally don’t get up in the morning and get excited about doing service for the community. In fact, some of us dread it. I’ll admit it, the thought that ample time is being spent out of my day to do something that isn’t productive towards my specific life and needs makes me a little weary sometimes. But there just so happens to be advantages of our work.
I am actively involved with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and my chapter has won numerous awards for community service. It isn’t about a shiny ribbon or medal, though. It is about laughter. I am around my brothers every day. I’ve been there through good times and bad, but I can’t think of any time that we have had more laughs and more bonding than when we all get together and help the community. One project that we do is highway cleanup through the Adopt a Highway program. Bending over to pick up trash and walking two miles down a busy highway outside of Winfield doesn’t sound like the most luxurious way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but when you are with your friends that you love, it creates a memory.
Speaking of bonding, community service has been a great way to get to know people you would have never met. Think back to Freshman Work Day. Those who you worked with as well as those you helped out were there right beside you the entire way. It basically forced you to get to know people better, and I don’t normally hear many complaining about that. Do you remember the name of the person’s house you worked on? Think about how they felt that day. Even though it may have been months, even years since that day, the memories are still there.
Is all this really worth it in the end? If it wasn’t there would be no reason to even consider putting in the time and effort, or for me to be writing this article. So, next time you are out in the heat or the frigid cold, or getting down and dirty, take a second to look around and soak in that feeling of helping for a greater cause. Then, take your pat on the back and go change your clothes.
Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.