This is a post by our guest blogger, Lexi B.
When I was about 13 years old, I wore the same pair of jeans practically every day. They weren’t very special and I had other pants, but I liked them so I continued to wear them until they didn’t fit. Any time my clothes didn’t fit, I would tell my mom and let her “take care of it.” I didn’t care where they went, because to me they were useless.
Two years later, on the day of Christmas Eve, I sat in a cramped room sorting and folding clothing of five kids that I didn’t know, in a house that wasn’t mine. The clothes were of assorted sizes and were extremely limited in number. As I folded the clothing, I came across a familiar pair of jeans. I laughed to myself at how foolish I was for wearing the same pair every day. But then I remembered where I was, what I have, and what those around me have, and I realized, that to someone else, these jeans could be everything, or the only thing.
This was my first experience with Project Elf. On December 24th of my freshman year of high school I helped surprise a family with the most unforgettable experience. Together with 25 other people, my family included, we moved furniture, clothing, food, toiletries, and organization into the household of two separate families. While I had volunteered on previous occasions, I had never felt this direct of a connection to those that I was helping. As we put everything into place, I watched the house transform into what I knew to be a complete home. From new toothbrushes to clean laundry, every object was making the biggest impact on the families’ lives. That is the true magic of Project Elf, that the effort and time spent volunteering is immediately seen and appreciated by the families being cared for.
After listening to Annette Rondano speak about what life is like transitioning from poverty and homelessness to being in a position to provide for others, it’s hard to imagine that we live in a world where people don’t lift up those around them. It’s simple when you think about it, if you have enough means to support more than just yourself, why wouldn’t you? Now an extremely busy working woman, Annette tries to help out any way that she can, whether that is a donation or hands-on work; she wants nothing more than to lift people up. Giving a family a helping hand helps bring out the light that they aren’t always able to shine.
For Addie Farr, she began working with Project Elf after Mickey reminded her of all the valuable things that come out of volunteering. Addie now volunteers every Christmas along with her brother in whatever way she can. Addie mentioned that while she has always been a giver, dramatically changing someone’s life is so much more inspiring. Setting everything up is of course chaotic, but the moment when everything is finished and the group of volunteers reflect on what has transpired over the past few hours creates such a sense of awe. Providing families with the tools they need to live successful lives not only transforms their lives, but also your own. The bond between volunteers is so powerful that the positivity and motivation will last long past Christmas.
As I head off to college in the fall, I find myself often thinking about the wonderful opportunities I have been given and all the wonderful people that have helped me attain those opportunities. I hope to be able to provide others with as much support as they need to feel that same level of gratitude. Next Christmas, think about what you have and what you can give, because we all know it is much better to give than to receive.
Guest Blogger – Lexi B.