It was the summer of 2008. I was invited to take part in this outreach event that supposedly had 500 children, not to mention hundreds of other volunteers. I decided to go for the heck of it and plus, I thought it would be awesome to do an outreach just this one time.
Fast forward 5 years, I still find myself volunteering for U! Happy Events, even getting myself a lot more involved along the way. Quite a surprise to be honest because like many people, ‘social responsibility’ used to be somewhat a fluid concept for me. As a student years before, it was something we were made to do to complete a course. I didn’t really I know what difference I can make.
I guess a lot of people feel the same way about this. They might say, ‘Yeah, I’ll distribute food, lend my car, or pack giveaways, but I don’t know what else I can do after that.’ One thing I’ve learned throughout my volunteer experience is that more than distributing food, or packing giveaways, what happens in between is also as important. As a kuya to the kids, the stories you share, the games you enjoy together, the songs you both dance to, the light moments of laughter, all contribute to make an impact during a U! event. As kids, they relish the meals and the gifts, but they remember the moments you have together. That’s what I always look forward to and I hope other people can experience it as well.
Yes we see people on TV or around us unconditionally serving kids in poor communities. If we compare our hearts with these people, we’ll definitely fall short. But let’s bear in mind that these people weren’t born with the instinctive heart to serve. The difference is that throughout their lives they saw a need for change, and decided to do something about it. That’s the one thing we have in common with them – somewhere at some point, they took that first step and got involved. And that first step has always been in front of us. To be involved, just first get started. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can do.