What Does Giving Really Mean Anyway?

The perception surrounding a word can often be deceiving. Sometimes a word’s meaning can be straightforward; other times that meaning dances along blurred lines. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, it can completely contradict itself. When someone mentions volunteerism, it normally implies the giving of time and effort without compensation.

When 11 eighth-graders from MICDS came to volunteer Thursday, December 12th, they were oblivious to how skewed that word would seem by the time they left. If you asked them then, they’d say they were the ones who came out on top.


One such volunteer, Kendall, said his eyes were opened to how friendly the kids were. “You don't really realize how loving the kids are until you meet them,” he said. “They were all laughing, all smiling.”

After spending the first part of the morning sorting through donated presents, the boys went into the classrooms to meet their assigned kids. It was in those moments that those 13 or 14 -year-old boys abandoned their armor of stoic coolness and reverted to being kids in teen bodies.


“They were all very nice and welcoming,” said Alex, who hung out in our Turtle Room. “I liked hearing what they had to say.”

For about 90 minutes, the boys joined small games of tag on the playground or became narrators of majestic stories in classroom reading corners. One thing they quickly realized was that they all were role models in the eyes of the boys and girls at SouthSide, a lesson they held onto all the way to the end of their visit.

As the group was leaving, the teacher who had accompanied the students looked at one of the them, one whom he had previously referred to as shy, and grinned as he placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“This is the most he’s smiled all year.”