Name: Maya Moggia
From: Redondo Beach, California
School: Redondo Union High School
It’s 9:15 AM.
The dresses are tucked neatly in their treasure chest, the cars are
in rows on their tracks, and there are no spills on the floor yet. We
open the doors and brace for the flood of children who within minutes
of their arrival will wreak havoc on the tidy room. Suddenly my mind
is in ten places at once. Some weeks there are only ten kids with
five volunteers, but today there are thirty kids and two volunteers.
The cars are on the floor, and one has already made its way into the
sink. My sweater is being tugged at by a boy who insists I am not
paying enough attention to his drawing of a turtle bird. I am
negotiating a peace treaty over the red and blue cars while reading
Dora the Explorer to a girl who wants—no, needs, she exclaims—me
to put a Cinderella dress on her at the same time.
I’ve helped run
the three year old classroom at my church since freshman year, but
each week it feels like stepping into an entirely new challenge.
It’s 10:00 AM.
The other volunteer and I have somehow managed to wrangle all of the
kids onto the mat without a meltdown and, just when I think I am in
the clear, I hear sniffles. I find the source of the noise and get up
to grab a tissue. After carefully navigating my journey across the
carpet without stepping on any hands or feet, I make it to the
tissues and travel back to do the pleasant task of wiping a kid’s
nose. Sure, I could be watching a movie at home, or reading a book,
or even doing my homework, but every week I volunteer. I see how
important it is for the parents to focus on their worship rather than
worry if today will be the day that their child decides to throw a
tantrum in the middle of the service.
I love helping
kids because of how open they are with their emotions. Three year
olds are never the ones to shy away from making someone smile by
making a funny face or giving a friend a hug. Often as we grow up, we
put up walls in our relationships to prevent uncomfortable situations
and rejection. Young kids are unaware of these feelings, giving them
an unhindered openness that allows them to bond with others around
It’s 10:30. The
kids line up to go outside and recount the rules as they do each
week. “No running up the slide,” and “no playing in the sand,”
they chime in, but as soon as we go out, there is sure to be a
divergent among the group. I start a game of hide-and-go seek and the
kids are off: under the slide, behind the door, and some—thinking
that I can’t see them if their eyes are closed—out in plain
sight. Running around like a kid, I find it easy to forget the small
irritations that build up into stress and frustration. These kids
remind me to take a step back and recognize all the goodness before
all of the daily annoyances that can build up so quickly.
From cleaning the
“accidental” drawings on the tables to somehow managing to get
their contraptions of shoes on their miniature feet, it is easy to
feel like helping out isn’t really making an impact, but when I see
the kids proudly showing off their drawings and telling their parents
about the story of the day, I remember that it is not always the big
gestures that make a difference to people, but rather just serving in
whatever capacity they need. Genuinely caring for the kids each week
and seeing them grow and learn has given me pride in my ability to be
persistent in finding solutions when difficulties arise and to serve
others to the best of my ability.