The last day of volunteering wasn’t necessarily the most rewarding and it wasn’t the least either. We worked for a long time, and had a lot of work to do, but it wasn’t the hardest work that we have done. We were sorting miscellaneous things such as hair supplies, tooth brushes and tooth paste, and other things like that. We were told how the food bank has around 27,000 hours of time donated to them a year on average. In a way, that made me kind of feel like we weren’t needed as much; I mean, 27,000 hours is a lot of time. I started feeling like our time could have been spent better at a place that doesn’t get so much volunteer work. However, when she said, “but without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to keep this place running.” Those 27,000 hours work into about 11-15 jobs that the food distribution group doesn’t have to pay salary for. So the more I think about it, the more I realize something. The way I had been thinking, about other place needing our time more, I’m sure others have thought about too, which would be discouraging the amount of volunteer hours the food distribution gets. If more and more people began thinking the way I was thinking, it would eventually lead to the distribution group to not be able to function without hiring more people, which I’m sure they cannot afford.
After we ate dinner, we went back to the building and our second task to start checking the expiration dates on medicine and tossing whatever had expired. That little job right there was probably the hardest thing I have had to do all week. There were a lot of medicines that could have been kept to help people that really need it. Children who need cough drops could have definitely used the ones that “expired” in December of 2011. However, according to code and policy, any medicine that is dated any time prior to January 1, 2012, had to be tossed out because it was considered expired. Well, there was certainly more medicine tossed than kept, let me tell you. Of course, some of It needed tossed out. According to companies’ and random people’s donations, apparently one man’s literal trash is another man’s treasure. It was still sad to me that so much of that medicine could have been used. The employees knew it could still be used, but they can’t break code or policy just in case, because were they to give out expired medicine and something bad happen, I’m sure many major legal issues would arise.
I think that we have all learned a lot since we’ve been volunteering on the trip. I know that my roommate, Morgan, and I really want to start volunteering more around Princeton. It’s a rewarding feeling that you can’t exactly explain. The only way you can know what I’m talking about is if you’ve done a hard day’s work for someone or a group of people that you do not know and that you may never meet. You aren’t completely aware of their situation and you don’t even know their names for the most part. All you need is the physical abilities to do the work that they do, the mental ability to realize that no matter how tedious the work, you’re helping someone in need, and the emotional ability to care enough that you’re fine with not getting paid or recognized. I do not see world peace all of the sudden revolutionizing anytime soon, but I truly, truly believe that people volunteering more (all that they can, in fact) is the absolute first step towards coexistence, world peace, and true joy around the earth. I’m sure I sound like a hippie, but if that’s what a hippie sounds like to you, maybe we should all bring that era back around and try to be what the world needs.
Amber Blevins 3/13/12