Prose, Grades 7-9: Third Place

Every Spoonful Counts— Sasha El-Hai

Why do people do good deeds? It seems like a ridiculous question, but it has a point. What is the motivation to participate in activities that don’t serve us? We do these good deeds every day, maybe some without even thinking about them. Remember last week when you assisted your younger brother with one of his math problems; or helped your mom with the dishes?  Even modest actions like this can be considered “good deeds.”
Some people may say that there’s no point helping out others because it doesn’t adjust your attitude or well-being. But if we think back to last week when you helped your brother with his math homework, how did it feel? It probably made you feel important to possess knowledge that he hadn’t learned yet. You also may have felt happy that you were able to connect with your brother on something as seemingly unrelatable as homework.
Did you also take into consideration that your self-confidence on math skills may have been boosted enough to volunteer in class the next day? I think that these benevolent actions do benefit us, even though it may not seem like it on the surface.
When I was in fourth grade I was part of a Girl Scout troop. We participated in many activities to help our environment and the people in it. We cleaned up trash around highways and donated clothes and food to shelters. One day we were told that we were going to volunteer at a nonprofit organization called Feed My Starving Children (FMSC).
Until that day, I hadn’t really cared too much about the good deeds I was doing. I understood that I was carrying out these procedures to assist nature or people, but I remained mostly stoic afterward. FMSC affected me in a very different way.
When we arrived, we sat in a large room and were presented with a slideshow. It contained pictures of young children and communities in places I hadn’t even heard of. All I could pay attention to was how prominent the children’s ribs were. We viewed the snapshots of FMSC representatives delivering food to these children with interest. It really stood out to me how all of this was taking place, and I’d had no idea whatsoever.
We tugged on hairnets and gloves, and joined many other Girl Scout troops and even just groups of friends in a huge room. Everyone was given a job. Some people helped load bags of food into boxes, some sealed the bags shut, and some helped with making the food, adding spoonfuls of rice or vegetables.
With every spoonful of soy that I contributed to a plastic bag, it felt amazing to know that some child far away would eat this very soy. Then maybe their ribs would be just a little less prominent.
By the end of the day we had filled enough bags to feed a very large amount of children, a number that the staff announced to us. I felt so proud to be part of something that would change people’s lives. It was a really terrific feeling that caused me to gain confidence in myself and in the people around me. For the next few years I begged my troop leader to take us back to FMSC time after time.
At the end of every long day we spent there, I experienced the same emotions. Hunger remains one of the international issues that I consider very important. Last year for an English project, we were assigned to write about issues that we think are serious. Hunger was one of the topics that I focused on. If I hadn’t gone to FMSC so many times when I was younger, hunger may not have been an issue I chose to research. I wouldn’t have learned so much information and statistics about such an urgent problem.
I consider attending FMSC so many times the good deed that I’m most proud of, because I learned a very valuable lesson from it. I learned that by performing benevolent actions for others, they can change us, too. They give us the opportunity to learn more about the world in which we live and understand the situation that we are in.
Even more important than learning about our environment, we learn about ourselves. We are able to find issues that trigger emotion in us and spark our passion to make a difference in the world.