I’m feeling a bigger sense of responsibility the more involved I become in community service projects. I’m not sure if it’s coming from volunteering just being in my life all of the time or my true self awareness to the world around me. Would the feeling go away if I stopped leading projects to better our community? The truth is that I don’t know.
This year I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous organizations that give back to our community. The best part for me aside from the act itself, is learning what led people to work so closely with a particular organization. Knowing the right questions to ask can give you amazing knowledge.
This past weekend I volunteered at Dallas Life. Along for the ride were several members of the philanthropy committee we started this year. And let’s not forget my seven year old son who joined in as well. I’m so grateful I have such a phenomenal group around me this year. I know we wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of what we have without each of them.
Our task was simple. Sort the donations. We entered a giant warehouse like room. It was nothing fancy and filled with clothing and shoes for men, women, and children. We spent close to two hours removing the winter clothes from the hangers and tossing them into large bins. Where do the clothes go from there?
Our chatty and gracious guide, Tammy, thanked us repeatedly for coming out. I had more questions however. Where do the winter clothes go? I assumed they stored them in a room in the building only to pull them out next winter. I was wrong.
Tammy took us to the next room where hundreds of plastic bags sat waiting for a truck to haul them off. I couldn’t believe how many bags were there. Tammy explained that once the season was over, the clothing gets sent to another part of the country or world that needs them. The shoes specifically are sent to Africa. The clothing could go to Memphis or Mexico. It’s really about who is in need at that moment.
From there she toured us around the basement of the facility showing us the supplies for the shelter. The toiletries, diapers, books, socks. All things we take for granted. The holiday supplies got to me. Can you imagine spending Easter at a homeless shelter with your small child? Tammy spoke of a little girl who was 4 years old. She currently lives at the shelter and is so tiny she needs 2T underpants. While Dallas Life is blessed with donations, most donors don’t consider a need for 2T underpants. Most two year old kids would have a greater need for pull-ups. This sweet 4 year old girl just wants underwear that fits her petite little body. And you could see the heart Tammy had for this child without her even saying a word. During our conversation Tammy also mentioned she had graduated from the program at Dallas Life. I have a feeling she’s a very strong woman with a big heart trying to give back to an organization that was there for her during a very tough time.
My son helped a lot that day. He was patient and willing. At the end of the day Tammy, offered to let him pick a stuff animal from the hundreds they’ve had donated. At first I was reluctant because after all, another child surely needed it more. After Tammy insisted, I backed down. Tammy was right. My son did need that stuffed animal. Only not in the way another child might. It was has been a reminder of how fortunate we are. On our way home, I asked him how he felt. He replied, “Happy and Sad, Mommy. I feel happy I was able to help. But I feel so sad that anyone has to go there.” I could see him processing his conflicting feelings as he looked out the window.
I know it’s called Dallas Life. However, they are reaching a lot further than Dallas. The shoes are sent to Africa. The unused clothing is sent anywhere in the world there is a need. It has put my life into perspective and hopefully yours as you read this. In the few hours I was there I saw many people in and out of a chapel to pray, people walking into an AA meeting, and men receiving haircuts from a barber. They’re simply giving life back to many people in Dallas.
For more on how you can help Dallas Life, Click here.