Name: Meagan Lauber
From: Chamblee , Ga
School: Chamblee Charter High School
Ever since I can remember, volunteering has been a way of life for me and my family. At first, I hated it. I was constantly complaining to my parents about having to give up my saturday mornings to wake up early and help people I didn’t even know. It was always the same routine every week; we would drive up to my church and spend the better parts of the day handing out groceries to families in the area. Back then, Malachi Food Pantry was a small scale food bank that was only serving around fifty families a week, but I have had the amazing opportunity to witness and be a part of the incredible impact it has had on the community. Looking back now, I can’t begin to thank my parents enough for forcing me to go.
I grew up both at and with this organization, spending wednesdays after school unloading crates of canned goods, and the days before Thanksgiving and Christmas handing out toys to children and turkeys to their parents. When I was in middle school my mom and I started Malachi Reads, a program where we collected old books from parish members and created a makeshift library where kids could come in and pick out books to be read or to take home. A lot of the kids didn’t speak any english so we aimed to improve their language and literacy skills, but this eventually morphed into a full scale daycare program. Once again we collected old toys and movies and art supplies and spent saturdays and wednesdays playing dress up and watching Finding Nemo Espanol over and over again. It became harder and harder as the number of kids grew, but we were happy because it meant that we were having even more of an impact on the families we helped.
Even though it is a lot of work and my back is often sore from giving so many piggy back rides, volunteering there has been an indescribably amazing experience. The language barrier was challenging at times and so was having so many kids to look after, but it never mattered much in the long run. In fact the countless weekends and weekdays I spent at the daycare sparked my interest in a career involving childhood development and social work. In my opinion, working with children is the most rewarding because you are teaching them skills that they will continue to use their entire lives. Who knows, in twenty or so years they might go on to change the world and by helping them, you have now become a part of this change. Knowing that makes all the hours I spent not just worth it, but indescribably well spent.