Last Saturday morning, YAL members from California State University, Fullerton took some time to give back to our communities. Waking up early in the morning is not always easy for college students, especially on a Saturday, but it is definitely worth it and we made it happen. Coordinating with the Volunteer and Service Center on our campus, we volunteered at the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen at St. Joseph’s School in Santa Ana. What we participated in was a inspiring display of charity and voluntarism.
Upon arrival we witnessed an area full of boxes containing food, toiletries, laundry supplies, and other household items that were prepared for needy people. Adjacent to that was an area with about four chairs where off duty hairstylists were giving away free haircuts to people that could not afford them. Next to that area was a large kitchen where local high school kids and volunteers were preparing massive amounts of spaghetti to feed the community. We passed the kitchen and headed outside to the area we would be working in, the playground. As soon as we got outside we saw hundreds of people, mostly families with lots of kids. There was a giant stack of Christmas trees that were being raffled off to the families and it was clearly making people very excited.
We learned that we would be interacting with the children to keep them company while the parents took care of their needs. We made arts and crafts with young boys and girls, played whiffle ball with local sandbox heroes, and shot baskets with kids that had way more energy than us. We were still able to hang though. It ended up being about four hours of activities and it seemed that both the kids and parents alike were very appreciative of our presence.
I think volunteering is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our communities and our experience at the soup kitchen solidified our beliefs in a system of people helping others in a non-coercive fashion. Not only were we able to help others in various ways, but it also left us with a good feeling in our hearts. Furthermore, coordinating with our campus volunteer center proved to be a great idea as well because we got to interact with other students from our school that had never heard of our club before. It gave us an opportunity to talk to our peers about liberty and voluntaryism.
All in all we had a great time doing this together and agreed that come next semester, we will be doing this far more often. We realize that it is important for us to practice what we preach. Our new goal is to participate in community events once a month next semester and that is definitely achievable.