Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Firewood

Name: Blake Wardle-Dugan
From: Keller, TX
Grade: 10
School: Fossil Ridge High School
Votes: 0




name is Blake, and throughout my life I have served others on record
for over 500 hours, and continue to log a little over 100 hours each
year between projects in Boy Scouts, National Honor Society, and my
AVID class. Recently, I have earned the rank of Eagle Scout after
completing a project which took 99 hours and involved leading a group
of 18 people to insulate a storage building for the Fort Worth
Aviation Museum. Next Fall I will leave my family to go on a two-year
religious mission and serve others daily from sunrise to sunset for
an estimated total of 8,600 additional service hours. With the
numbers out of the way I’d like to speak concerning one opportunity
I had to serve as a boy, which changed my perspective on service.

the Summer of 2013 I stayed with my grandparents in a small, secluded
mountain town known as Garden Valley, Idaho. In the valley, Summer is
a season of firewood gathering, for most only have wood-burning
stoves to warm their homes in the winter. For many elderly members of
the community that year, the task of harvesting the large pines had
grown too strenuous for their fragile frames. Providing wood for
these people became a great task for my grandfather, who himself was
68 years of age, and knowing his condition, I volunteered to help
however I could. On day one, we felled two one-hundred-foot-tall
spruces and hauled them to our wood yard. The next morning, I began
the task of splitting all the wood. Being a thirteen-year-old boy, I
saw the opportunity to wield an ax as a chance to prove my “skill,”
but soon discovered that I would be using a wood-splitter instead.
Seven hours later, I was drenched in sweat and pine sap made my skin
smell like an air freshener. Eventually, the old splitting machine
met its match, and failed to break a log as wide as a sofa cushion,
so I picked up the ax. After chopping at the wood for thirty minutes
I became frustrated, and decided to use its weight against it.
Standing on a truck bed, I threw the log as hard as I could at the
ground and watched as it snapped in two with a loud *CRACK*. With my
victory over the log, the work was complete. That night, I went to
bed aching, but satisfied. Over the course of several days, the wood
was distributed to the elders of the community, and that winter none
of them were cold.

that summer, my grandfather revealed how vital my work had really
been to those elders. Without firewood, they would have perished,
having not the strength nor means to fend off the harsh mountain
winter. This experience has taught me that if we are to serve, then
we must do so with our whole being, for a single day of service for
us could m
ean an entire season of life for another.

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