We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofOrrin Barnhart

One of my earliest memories is my dad coming into my room before the sun was up waking me up to go and help people who were less fortunate than us. I reluctantly got up giving up my precious sleep. After setting up breakfast for the people waiting outside; the doors were opened to hundreds of hungry people. I was standing there with a full belly of the fruit loops I ate that morning, handing oranges to people who may have not eaten for a couple of days. The people we were serving were immensely grateful with full smiles eating their full plates of food.

I am blessed with the opportunity my dad has given me to grow up serving others. It’s provided a way for me to see another side of life that I may have never seen if it wasn’t for my dad’s desire for us to learn to serve others. I want my friends to have these same experiences that I’ve had so I invite them whenever I get the chance.

There is an annual Christmas store that my family and I have gone to for over a decade. This past year they were struggling to get volunteers because of Covid-19, so I invited some of my friends to come and serve so that they would have enough people to hand out the gifts to the 1,400 people waiting for their gifts. We only signed up for the morning shifts for a couple of days. As we were working the people in charge were getting nervous about the afternoon shift because they only had a couple volunteers. My friends and I wanted to make sure the gifts would get to those people in need so we stayed and helped out with the second shift on both days.

In our country, there are thousands of stories of people who have been able to serve. I’ve grown into a person who jumps out of bed to go and help out at the soup kitchen. I am meant to help. I can help those who don’t have food or money to support themselves and their families. I can help people who are struggling with a decision, a relationship, or schoolwork.

I am grateful for my experiences and lessons that have been taught to me here in this country. One lesson that has always stuck with me is one that my dad taught me. He told me that there is always a broom to pick up. Even if you don’t have work there is always a broom or something else you could be working on. My life is safe, and I have food, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do more and go out and help others. There is always that broom we can go and pick up.

© Orrin Barnhart. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.