This is a guest post from OHAAT volunteer Billy Kelso. Billy first started volunteering in January 2015, and he’s currently a sophomore at Temple University.
As a college student, waking up early on Saturday morning isn’t the easiest thing to do, but when you’re waking up to make a difference for underprivileged kids in your own neighborhood, it feels better than any amount of sleep. The first time I volunteered with OHAAT’s Beds for Kids program I didn’t know what to expect, driving through the city of Philadelphia delivering beds to houses with a group of strangers. Wouldn’t that be awkward or at least boring? Well the answer is a resounding NO! It definitely wasn’t. It was just the opposite. The group of strangers quickly meshed in their common purpose, and the work was anything but boring. Don’t just take my word for it—come along on my experience…
One by one the volunteers showed up at OHAAT’s storage facility and shyly said hello to each other. These were people young and old, men and women, managers and ministers. It was nice to see all these people, who obviously had busy lives, taking time out of their Saturday morning to lend a helping hand to families in need. After the truck was loaded with the beds, frames, bedding bags and stuffed animals, we drove into the city ready to deliver. When we pulled up to the homes, we had to get out quickly and begin unloading, so we didn’t block the tight city streets for long. Many houses were in disrepair, with very little furniture and several children sleeping on makeshift beds. Although there was obvious need, there were just as many smiles and “thank you”s. It felt very good to be able to help these families. The best part, in my opinion, was seeing the children getting their stuffed animals, showing them off to one another, and just being so happy. The idea behind the Beds for Kids program is very simple. These kids need something we all take for granted—a bed and a good safe place to sleep. OHAAT gives volunteers the opportunity to meet these simple needs for over 700 children per year. There is nothing boring about that!
It is definitely tempting to stay in bed on Saturday morning, but this irony is not lost on me. For me to stay in bed requires the simple need that OHAAT meets—a bed. It is difficult for those who have always had their needs met to imagine growing up without these necessities. However, for the small cost of a few Saturday morning hours, volunteers get the opportunity to better understand what these kids and families experience and the benefit of being able to make a difference in their lives. Having that and the priceless looks on the thankful parents’ and children’s faces are more than enough reasons to get out and help.
See you at a volunteer event!