Youth Forward Scholarship 2018 – Gifting The Homeless

Name: Cheyenne Cleggett
From: Chicago, Illinois
Grade: 12
School: CICS Ralph Ellsion
Votes: 0

Undoubtedly, going to school is an important aspect of increasing one’s
knowledge. School has proved to also provide and enhance valuable
life skills. It is in high school that each student is mandated to
perform selfless acts that provides students the opportunity to gain
the knowledge of giving back. This program although mandates provides
students with the opportunity to truly understand what it means to
help another person without any financial gain. It is also through
these selfless acts of volunteering that I discovered the most
fulfilling, rewarding and humbling experience that I have ever
encountered. The area in which I chose to volunteer was to help those
less fortunate than me within my very own community. I chose to help
the homeless, because I have watched and listened to my aunt in
regard to her calling to help those less fortunate than me. Listening
to her and watching the emotions that her face expresses as she
talked, intrigued me in ways that I could not understand.

With that being said, I volunteered to help the less fortunate than me
during the thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. There were two big
“Gifting the Homeless” days. On day one we drove all over the
city of Chicago feeding the homeless and providing them with their
choice of hot chocolate, hot tea, or water. The second day was a bit
longer, we started at 7am. The first stop is at a women and
children’s shelter where each child in the shelter is given three
items that were on their list for Santa Claus. After all the gifts
have been passed to all the children, we begin our drive all over the
city to “Gift the Homeless” once again. However, this time we do
more than feed them, we provide each homeless person we encounter
with a giftwrapped blessing bag. Each bag contains various toiletries
that everyone needs, socks, hat, gloves, a scarf and a McDonald’s
gift card for food.

Granted, gifting in this magnitude is not an easy task, nor can it be
completed overnight. Each day there are several hours leading up to
the event that each person much dedicate to ensuring the event goes
off without a hitch. I volunteer for two months, this includes
preparation as well as the day of the event. I am entrusted with
several responsibilities, some of which include, but are not limited
to making the bags for the tea, packing food, wrapping gifts, packing
blessing bags, and cleaning up afterwards. Although these events are
very humbling they can also be very challenging.


            Many obstacles arise that can cause any person to second guess
participating. Some challenges include a lack of finances/resources,
lack of volunteers, tension between volunteers. However, for me the
biggest challenge was devoting all of my free time for two months. I
sacrificed my time with my friends, hanging out, watching television
and just doing nothing. Needless to say, I still pushed through all
the challenges and remained faithful to the cause, not just because I
needed the community service, but because learning to persevere
through challenges is also what the mandated community service has
taught me. Also, keep in mind that what I gained from these
experiences far outweighed any challenge that I have ever faced. I
never realized that there were such many homeless people within my
city. The look on their faces as we passed out our gifts was
priceless, and this was by far the most rewarding aspect of it for
me. I met some truly amazing, educated and talented individuals. I
also met people from all walks of life. Some with Ph.D.’s and great
paying jobs who by a stroke of bad luck suddenly found themselves
homeless.

Furthermore, I learned that it is nice to be nice to someone, and giving of
yourself does not cost us a thing. I have learned how our actions
affect not only ourselves, but those close to us as well. I also
believe that as people see a small group of people volunteering to
make a difference that it will spark a change within our community
and resources would be given to the homeless population. It is my
prayer that years down the line the homeless population continues to
diminish based on the start we created last year. Therefore, my
career goals are to help others, not exactly in the same manner but
helping none the less. I have decided to help others by assisting
them when they have a sports injury, giving them the tools and
regimen they need to regain their mobility and full function of what
once was an injured limb. I love sports and having the ability to
help people enjoy what they love to do gives me the best of both
worlds. I now look excitingly look forward to the future, knowing
that I will be assisting in making the difference in someone else’s
life.


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