Yesterday I had the pleasure of volunteering at my local food bank. I haven’t had a lot of volunteer experience, mainly because I get so caught up in my day to day that nothing else ever even crosses my mind. A group of people I know were all going together and invited me to come along and I jumped at the opportunity. Volunteer work has always been something I wanted to do more of. When I was growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money and I distinctly remember several holidays that would have not been holidays had my parents not accepted some sort of charity. I feel like it’s not only good to pay it forward, but knowing that I can help to provide that same feeling of gratitude that I felt growing up is really one of the most satisfying feelings I can think of. I do give to charities whenever I can. When I am shopping and organizations collect money in front of the store, I donate. The pet stores get me with a donation every time I go in there, I just can’t say no. Even today, I went to The Vitamin Shoppe and I donated $5 which will help prevent 20 children from going blind. Amazing. But these donations are really so little. Sure they go to a good cause and they do really help people but I think it’s different to actually give your time and to be able to do something tangible.
There was a rather large group of us there and when they were giving out assignments the site manager asked for 3 “strong volunteers”. This, of course, meant there would be some lifting involved. Naturally, I spoke up because why miss a chance to lift heavy things?? I was at the end of the sort operation and was responsible for sealing boxes of food (around 30lbs/13kg) and carrying them to the appropriate pallet. When a pallet was full and removed I had to then put a new wooden pallet in its place. This went on for about 3 hours. Since there were a lot of people volunteering things were moving pretty quickly and I was definitely kept busy! I didn’t count but I know I carried at least a couple hundred boxes. By the end of the 3 hours I had worked up a good sweat and my Fitbit goal was toast. I was having such a good time that I was actually sad when they ended our shift. This bit of sadness I felt got me thinking…
I just spent 3 hours of my life busting my butt for the betterment of someone else’s life. I would be directly responsible for brightening someone’s day and removing at least one significant stress from their lives. I spent those same three hours engaged in a full body workout. Not only did I get my heart rate up, I worked pretty much every major muscle group and I burned a bunch of calories. After all was said and done, I had a pretty perfect afternoon.
It was about 4 or 5 months ago that I seriously started looking at my life and made the decision that I didn’t like the route in which I was heading. I needed to make a change, not just for me, but for my family. Going into a desk job and sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day doing work for some corporate big wigs that I will never meet doesn’t really give me any satisfaction. I appreciate that I have a job and that it allows me to take care of my family; I am very grateful for that, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way I can be a provider. I decided to take control of my health and fitness and once I was in a better place physically I would branch out and try my hand at passing on that gift to others. I still haven’t quite figured out where I am going to land, and that’s ok, I just needed to pick a direction to work toward. It can be a bit daunting though, thinking about leaving everything you know for something uncertain. Yesterday’s volunteering has really helped me to assuage those fears. Even though it will still be a lot of work I know I am working for the right thing. 3 hours in the office can seem to take forever, but 3 hours of physically demanding work that resulted in a better world, well, that time simply flew by. If I am able to wake up everyday and go to a job that I love while being able to help people change their lives I will really feel like I’m doing something I can be proud of.
I am definitely taking this as a sign that I am doing the right things and I am heading in the right direction. I highly encourage everyone to get out sometime soon and give some of your time to help someone else. Even something small to you can mean so much to so many!