Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Their Boxes My Joy

Name: Natalia Grassi
From: Bryan, TX
Grade: Junior
School: Blinn College
Votes: 0

Boxes, My Joy

My goal was fifteen. This may not seem particularly unattainable or
impressive, but it was a stretch that felt impossible to accomplish
in only a few weeks. I have always looked for opportunities to serve
in my community, but was hesitant to actually take the initiative,
and start my own project. The
“Boxes of Joy” program first caught my eye

while reading my church’s
newsletter. The idea was to fill a shoe-box with small gifts for
children in Guatemala and Haiti, who wouldn’t otherwise have a
Christmas gift. I remember visiting Guatemala when I was six, and
seeing children my age selling flowers on the side of the road, or
shinning men’s shoes. It struck me that their lives were so
different than mine; they wore tattered clothing, and weren’t in
school or playing. Instead, they were working to help support their
families. It left me with a mixed sense of confusion and despair, and
I knew, in that moment, I had a responsibility to help others.

Initially my objective was to contribute only two boxes. This was a stretch on
my already-tight budget, but I was eager to get started, and I
couldn’t seem to contain my excitemen
However, I felt as though my conscience was nagging me, insisting I
could do more. It was then that I asked myself, “Why stop at two?”

My goal became clear as day—I
would raise enough money to cover the full cost of fifteen boxes. I
figured my best bet would be to use social media to my advantage, so
I posted my idea, and requested donations from friends and family
through Facebook. To my surprise, the money started pouring in. It
seemed too good to be true that my goal would be this easy to reach,
so just to be safe, I decided to bake cookies to sell for extra
funds. I also solicited local businesses for charitable donations
such as, toothbrushes from a dentist, extra art supplies from a
teacher, and empty shoe boxes from anyone who could spare some.
Before long, I had everything I needed. Our dining table looked like
Toys R Us had exploded on it, and I had more shoe boxes than Imelda

As I placed each of the small, inexpensive items in the boxes, I
recognized that there are people out there who need so little to make
them happy. In reflecting on this, I find it unbelievable that so
many of us waste so much time complaining about what we don
have, instead of appreciating all that we are blessed with. We spend
endless amounts of time pursuing frivolous, material things instead
of giving more of ourselves to others. Though I won’t be able to
see the children’s reaction in person, this project has taught me
that even something as small as a Dollar Store jump rope, can make a
big impact on the life of a child—that bringing joy to others is
the biggest gift we can give ourselves. Helping others has always
been an important part of who I am, and I will strive to remember
this as I continue to pursue more service opportunities, while trying
make a difference in someone’s life, one “Box of Joy” at a

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