The Impact of the Volunteer

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As a child, I made excuses to avoid working at the soup kitchen on Sunday afternoons. I would fake a ferver, headache or a homework emergency to dodge my family's four-hour shift in the pantry. My father's patient response was always the same: "You must give back to the community whatever blessings you have." Although I didn't appreciate it as a child, my commitment to humanitarian causes is directly attributable to my father.

His altruism inspired my greatest achievement, the Learning Cove, a free mobile library that serves rural, underprivileged children. Acknowledging the world of opportunities afforded by reading, I desperately wanted to provide the gift of books to those who lacked access to a public library. The Learning Cove started on a shoestring budget and grew into a thriving, community enterprise. My initial role was as champion of the program, soliciting donations and help from fellow students in my school.

We conducted fundraisers to buy a used van and solicited donations of books, tapes, magazines and periodicals fom businesses and citizens throughout our community. I worked in conjunction with my school librarian to label and bind the books and learn the Dewey decimal system. In just three months, we recruited weekly drivers for the van and volunteers to service our customers. We now have weekly runs to seven small towns on the outskirts of Kansas City and 2,000 volumes in circulation. My personal goal is to add another thousands volumes to our "stacks" during my senior year.

Starting the program was a challenging experience which resulted in a positive effect on the lives of hundreds of rural children. I am committed to continuing community service work throughout my life, both to benefit others and to honor my father's fine example.