by Kayla Dunbar, AmeriCorps member serving on the Depuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson with Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School
This year the City Year Boston Civic Engagement team (BCE) hosted a Thanksgiving service event at the Headquarters for Idealism. During this event 400 volunteers helped make around 150 apple pies, 700 hygiene kits, no-sew scarfs, hats, and blankets, stuffed animals, and bingo prizes for various resource centers and homeless shelters around Boston. As City Year AmeriCorps members, we had the opportunity to coordinate groups of volunteers in each of these projects.
Every 2 hours, I led a new group of 12 people in making 100 stuffed animals and shirts for the animals and 200 hygiene kits to send to The Home for Little Wanderers and The St. Francis House. We also partnered with many other organizations in and around Boston such as Heath Street and Pine Street Inn. Being able to work with many different people during this event helped me get to know about why other people wanted to volunteer their time and serve to help others. One volunteer told me that she chose this event because we partnered with so many different organizations and she wanted to help as many organizations as possible this season. There were many people that stayed for multiple shifts of volunteering. They changed projects each time so they could help the different organizations.
All of the volunteers who worked on my project were openly excited about making cards for the hygiene kits and making the kits themselves. They also told me that they really enjoyed the fact that they could be creative when decorating the shirts for the stuffed animals. Walking around and seeing all of the different projects that were happening all at once moved me and showed me that when a group of people come together to help people in need they can accomplish many things.
During the last shift of the day, I was able to work with an entire family. The youngest son was very eager to help with anything. He wanted to make cards and decorate shirts and help fill the hygiene bags. His older brother was also really enjoying the shirt decorating and was always willing to help out with every task. As all our volunteers gathered after their shift, I asked the older brother to share his thoughts about his day of service . He said that his joy from the day was coming together to help those in need. Ultimately, this day made me realize that it does not matter how old you are or where you are on your walk in life, you can serve to help those in need.