Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Giving Back in Arizona

While I went on vacation in Arizona to visit family over winter break, I did more than just relax and catch up with loved ones. I ended up volunteering for two great organizations in one day, and it felt really good.

My uncle is a police officer, and the first day we got to Tucson he told me and my sister that we were going to come with him to two events that upcoming Saturday. I was excited, and I wondered what we would be doing there, for I haven't really done any volunteer work to that magnitude.

The first event that we went to was at a Target, and it was called Shop With a Cop. It works like this: each police officer is paired with an underprivileged family, and the children of the families are given $100 each to spend on whatever they want; clothes, shoes, toys, you name it. This event, which happens around Christmas time, was started around fifteen years ago. This year, they helped out about 300 underprivileged kids. I know what you’re thinking, how do they get the money to do this? Well, the Tucson Police Department raises money all throughout the year for this. "It shows the caring level of the officers." John Strader said, president of the Police Association, and head of this organization.

During the time I spent at Shop With a Cop, my uncle, my sister and I helped out 3 families pick out things they wanted for Christmas. Without this organization, a lot of these kids would get little to nothing for Christmas. It was very rewarding to me, as a person, because helping other people out, especially those who are less fortunate, is a wonderful thing. Just seeing the smile on those kids faces when they picked out all their toys was enough to warm my heart.

The second event we went to, was called The Shyann Kindness Project. It was held in a local elementary school, and was possibly the kindest thing I had ever seen in my entire life. It's named after Shyann Rosati, a kind-hearted little girl who died at the age of 7 in 2005. Shyann's parents were inspired to create this wonderful organization after a friend of theirs made a random act of kindness in Shayann's name after her death. It is a 100% volunteered organization, and I was lucky enough to be one of them for a day.

At Los Ninos Elementary School, the volunteers of TSKP along with the Civitan Club (an organization that helps mentally handicapped people, which my uncle and my grandpa are a part of) had prepared a full meal (pizza, chips and drinks)  for dozens of unfortunate families, along with a free haircut for everyone, free oil changes for a year, a library full of free things that every family could fill a trash bag with (everything from DVDs to canned goods to toys) a magic show for the kids, and to top it off, a raffle with prizes like laptops, bikes, and gift cards to local grocery stores. I helped pass out chips to everyone, and I was just so happy to be there. There was so much love and kindness in the air, and never had I felt such pride to be a part of something.

After that amazing day ended, it made me realize that I want to do things like that a lot more often, because it's rewarding to me as a person, but most importantly, to others.

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