A few years ago, my softball team and I during Christmas time decided to go buy toys, wrap them up, and go give them to a shelter for girls who got removed from their families. As the girls only spoke Spanish, I had a bigger role than expected as I was the only one who spoke and understood Spanish, so in order to communicate with them I was the assigned speaker. My communication skills came in handy as I translated what my coaches were wanting to say to the girls and seeing those smiles on their faces is something I won’t ever forget. As we did this, I realize that my teammates were relying on me to speak to the girls for them, making me a leader figure, as I was keeping everyone under control and telling them not to get stressed over the fact that they didn’t know what the girls were trying to tell them. Regardless of the difficulties, as we started handing them their gifts, they all started to come up to us, thanking us with tears in their eyes, especially grateful for having someone to translate what they were saying because they wanted everyone who came to get their equal love and gratitude for what we all had done. The workers at the shelter had told us that they hadn’t smiled like that in a while, so knowing we all came as one to do that for them made us all feel good about what we had accomplished.
This volunteer opportunity was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Seeing children in shelters is near to my heart just because of the imaginable pain they go through, not having that constant support and love from their families. It hurts me to know they have to face that at such young ages. The girls thought they wouldn’t have a Christmas this year because of the circumstances they were being faced with, but we turned that around for them. This experience was so surreal and a one-of-a-kind opportunity we took full advantage of. It was more impactful for me as I could actually communicate and hold conversations with them one by one without them struggling to try to speak another language. You could tell they were genuinely happy as they don’t get to experience this the same way we do every year. It’s taught me to always be thankful for what you have because it can easily be taken away from you as you never know when you can get it back or even if you do. It’s always the little things that make people the happiest, especially when it's unexpected, and the girls taught me that and I will forever continue holding them close to my heart.