“I just wanted to thank you guys for what you’ve done for me and my family,” the woman said as she donated clothes.
This is Catherine’s story - showing us the immeasurable effect volunteering has on our community. Volunteers provide a light in the darkness that people in our community experience across different aspects of their lives.
There was a crisp fall breeze the day that I decided to volunteer at the Fall Festival for Note in the Pocket. The air was lively, sprinkled with children’s laughter as they ran through the small pumpkin patch that had been laid out in the adjacent field. Dozens of tables circled the area, each one boasting a fun fall-themed family event. I immediately turned to my left to face Note in the Pocket’s table, which was already surrounded by volunteers. The other volunteers and I paid careful attention to our venue as we set it up, making sure that the flyers didn’t get lost with the wind. In the center of the table was a wardrobe’s worth of children’s clothes, a little reminder of what Note in the Pocket strived to provide for underprivileged children in the area. Next to the table was a large box with Note in the Pocket’s logo and the word ‘DONATIONS’ emblazoned on the front; our goal was to receive as many coat and jacket donations as possible to prepare for the upcoming winter.
I spent the day rotating through different errands for Note in the Pocket. Sifting my way through the packed crowd, I clutched a stack of flyers close to my chest. All of the families whom I spoke to were very kind, and they readily took the flyers from my outstretched hands. After an hour or so, my hands were empty, and as I looked into the crowd, I could see faint flashes of my flyers in people’s pockets and in children’s strollers. Satisfied, I returned to the venue.
My next job was to work at the table, asking all of the passerbys if they would be willing to donate a coat to our cause. Many came prepared, tossing coats into the box before I could even utter my quick speech. It didn’t take long for the donations box to fill up; we received coats in all sizes and colors, and some people even donated other clothes as well. As the festival came to its end, and the exuberant crowd dwindled into a smaller and smaller gathering, I thought that would be the end of the donations. That’s when I was approached by a young woman, clutching a large bag of clothes in her hand.
She asked me if this was the Note in the Pocket venue, and I nodded. As she was dropping the bag into the donation box, I was about to utter a thank-you when she began to speak. “I just wanted to thank you guys for what you’ve done for me and my family.” I was speechless, so the woman continued. She told me about how she had been in a rough place years before, and Note in the Pocket had supported her and her family through their struggles by helping to clothe her children. She told me that she wanted to pay it forward, so she was donating all of her children’s old clothes that no longer fit them. Giving is a circle, she said, and she wanted to carry on the good-hearted spirit. With that, she walked off, leading her kids towards the bouncy house. My feet felt glued to the ground. Sure, I had been volunteering for years, and I knew that my service was helping other people in my community. However, this was the first time I had seen personally how volunteering can have a life-changing impact on someone and their family. It was a fulfilling feeling, knowing that my hours spent volunteering were making someone’s life better.
To this day, I have not forgotten this woman’s journey. The smile on that woman’s face is what drives me to be a more active volunteer and member of the community. I hope that I can keep making others smile through my acts of service. I also hope that I can lead other volunteers to have this same experience because it changes your entire mindset about volunteering. That’s why I joined Triangle Cares — I want to keep the circle of giving alive.
Donating and volunteering not only has physical benefits for the people receiving help, but emotional benefits too. It allows them to feel appreciated by and included in the community.