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The holidays were great for me. Like all kids I got presents and got to spend time with my family.

But this year I did something that most kids won’t be seen doing on Christmas Eve — this year I went to a soup kitchen called “Blessed Hope” to serve food to the homeless.

It was a fantastic time and experience for me and my family members.

On Christmas Eve my dad, my brother and I arrived at the church at 4 p.m. to help set up for dinner. Around 5 p.m., everyone began arriving to enjoy a meal. I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect. Everyone said grace then one by one, came up to get their plates.

Everyone there had the nicest manners and seemed to be really happy. Seeing everyone smile and enjoy their time and being thankful really impacted me.          The way it impacted me was how it showed that even when times are tough and it doesn’t seem like anything is working, you fight through it and find happiness.

That’s the main thing I learned while I was there. It made me feel glad and reminded me not to take things for granted. It did because you never know what tomorrow brings so enjoy whatever it is while it lasts and you have the chance, too.

After dinner, I received a lot of smiles and heard a bunch of thank yous. Seeing everyone smile and enjoy their time really made me happy. Everyone was invited to stay if they wanted to and have a great Christmas Eve.

They could sleep, watch TV, play board games, anything they want to do. I cleaned up the tables and had conversations with some of the men and women there. The talks really made me feel good, like I’ve changed them or at least helped them in a valuable way. It really was a great feeling.
Later that week, I was thinking about my awesome experience. I wondered how much I actually helped all of the people there. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I did. Serving food for three hours and helping out really made a difference for many.

What I did was serve food, cleaned up, talked to one another, made a couple people laugh and it was so easy and pretty fun. But that was such a simple activity and look what it did to some people I didn’t even know. It made me realize, if something as easy as that helped so much, then why can’t more people help and volunteer?

You really don’t know the overwhelming feelings you will get until you try it and help someone. I don’t mean helping your friends and family. I mean the ones who are in need. Using your time, even as little as an hour a day, could help someone greatly.

All the things we take for granted like the ability to clean or cook, others may not be able to do and would appreciate our help. It’s no lie that there are many people needing help out there. But that is one thing we can change.

Take advantage of the opportunity of caring and give a helping hand. Learn the joy that comes from seeing smiles from complete strangers. On Christmas Eve I really thought I was helping the people who visited Blessed Hope, but actually, they are the ones that helped me! It’s always great to see a smile.

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