The first time I visited the Oak City Outreach Center was at the end of the 2016-2017 school year to spray paint flowers with my peers; the area was calm and quiet as we tinted the ground various shades to symbolize a welcoming area for Raleigh’s homeless. I was thoroughly surprised in our following visit, the center transcended from calm to ecstatic as “Charity Ball season” approached. Rather than being a calm area it had a beautifully chaotic energy to it. Some individuals sat alone, read a book or listened to music, while others socialized and used the space as an area to sit with their families. It was a community.
Upon going to the center, each of us were assigned jobs to help out the place. My job was to clean up the trash around area, and to do this I used a trash collector to pick up items scattered around the center. Many items were fairly easy to pick up but I struggled with a paper plate. As I was attempting to pick up the plate I was greeted by a little boy, he asked if I wanted his help in picking up it up. My face instantly lit up with excitement as I said yes. After generously helping me, the boy reached into his pocket and pulled out two sticks that he held to resemble a cross. I then asked what it was he held in his hands. “A letter” he said cheerfully, and after asking which letter it was, he said with a smile that spread to both his ears “T.” His excitement was contagious and it made me hopeful. He did not need shiny new toys to fascinate him and his curiosity was not limited to his situation. He was young enough to be entertained with the two sticks, and was not old enough to feel as though he was missing out on anything.
As a junior at Enloe High School where excellence is the standard, it is easy to lose energy and give into apathy when the workload becomes too much to bare. However, I was reminded that afternoon of a childlike spirit we all used to have, one that faced every obstacle with an everlasting joy. After meeting this boy, raising money for Charity Ball means I am able to impact his life and all of the other kids like him in the Raleigh area. In an ideal world every child would be granted the opportunity to feel secure and be able to learn, express, and live freely. Unfortunately, we do not live in that ideal world, and the reality is 34% of children are homeless in North Carolina. Many individuals may say it is impossible for high school students to change their community, but if we continue to share this childlike spirit then there is no doubt to me that we can change the world.
Junior Class Advisory Member