Why I Volunteer

Madison Guynup, Advertising Manager

        Volunteering gave me new perspectives, after volunteering for homeless shelters and schools I learned something new each time and it gave me new ways of thinking about my own life.

        I have volunteered for the Tacoma Rescue Mission, local elementary schools, junior highs and also with my family’s businesses. 

       I was first introduced to volunteering in elementary school before I even knew what it was. The first time I had ever volunteered was in third grade when I volunteered to be a book fair cashier. 

       I helped people check out, find books on the shelf and get them posters from the back. I devoted both my recesses everyday for about two weeks.

       I loved the idea of helping others even though it didn’t benefit my own needs. Even though I was young and didn’t understand the impact that a volunteer could have on a community, I knew it was something that I loved doing. 

        After third grade I volunteered for the book fair every year following until I finished elementary school.

        My next volunteer experience came in seventh grade. I was the Edgemont Junior High (EJH) soccer manager. I went to games with the team, helped gather all their equipment and got them what they needed. The best part of this experience was meeting new friends and creating an environment where we all felt comfortable and safe. I didn’t know that’s what we were doing at the time but looking back I remember the bus rides to games when we helped each other with our problems, played games and just relied on each other as a team.

        During junior high is when I did most of my volunteer work. EJH was where I was introduced to WE club, a group that met once a week to plan fundraisers, volunteer activities and campaigns for our local community and one country in need, for example we did Haiti in ninth grade. WE club was ran through a nonprofit organization that aims for a better future and makes doing good, doable. 

       WE club impacted many people including myself. I volunteered at the Tacoma Rescue Mission (TRM) through my club. TRM opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. To see what locals did to support each other made me feel grateful for the things I have and the kind of community I live in. 

        At the TRM they have a warehouse of things donated to them to give to homeless people who need it. They also had a dining hall where they prepared and served meals to people in need of them. Volunteering there I met new people who devote all of their time into helping others even though they have nothing to gain.

        At TRM I prepared and served dinner to people in need. While serving them I met people who even going through the hardest time of their lives, were still so grateful and happy to have us their. It shed light on all the things I have to be grateful for.

        Our club also did things like warm clothes drive and food drives for our school and local community center in Edgewood. 

        I think that a lot of schools in our community do drives like this but when you are involved with them it really makes you see things differently. I learned a lot through volunteering and everything stays with me but one thing that really stood out was the impact it had on my peers and people I knew.

        I learned that you never know what someone is going through. All the clothes and food we collected for the community center and school went to people that I didn’t even know needed it because I thought that anyone who needed it would just ask. I slowly came to the conclusion that some people don’t want to ask especially people they know because maybe they feel embarrassed or ashamed.

It made me realize that the classes that participated in all these events may never know the impact they make, it could be someone you sit next to everyday or maybe even a teacher, either way you’re doing it for something bigger than yourself.

        After taking a step back and realizing I’ve been doing fundraisers and food drives like this since kindergarten, I thought about all the people I may have impacted that I don’t even know about. 

All of those times we raced to see which class could bring in more articles of clothing or more cans of food, we were doing it for others when we all thought we were doing it to win.

        I don’t think people always understand the impact they’re making when it’s disguised as a competition, but either way it is creating change and helping the people who need it. I think our community is smart for doing that because it is creating something that impact us all whether you are doing it for the win or because it’s a way of volunteering through participation. After going through these experiences it lead me to knowingly volunteer for other things, eventually leading me to get my Varsity letter in community service. 

        Getting my letter didn’t make me stop either, it just made me open my eyes to all of the things that I haven’t done yet and the things I want to do and volunteer for. I want to encourage people to volunteer, not for their own benefit like their obvious graduating requirements but go beyond that and realize what change and impact they can make.

        One important thing I’ve learned and hope that anyone takes away from this is that anything helps whether it’s donating or volunteering. Also realize, there is no shame in struggle, I think a lot of people are too afraid to ask for help because they’re embarrassed or ashamed but I think we all might need a little help in one way or another and I want others to feel the kindness and compassion of our community and it’s members as I do.