I volunteered to help the Salvation Army the other day. It was associated with PTK (Phi Theta Kappa). This experience was fantastic since it helped me understand what “Good Works” as charity means as discussed in my “History of Christianity” class that I took this Fall semester. I did not even know what “salvation” meant before.
My activity was only three hours distributing Christmas gifts to needy families at the Salvation Army Center through the Angel Tree program, registered by people in October, and they come to pick them up. I was told 2,000 children receive free Christmas gifts from Salvation Army every year – not sure how many years they are doing this. They had two distribution days and my volunteering day was the second day.
People have different perspectives of “Good Works.” Some say it is hypocrisy. I thought that too and I understand why others do also. Ideally, you do charity because you feel sorry for children who are not able to get gifts on Christmas day. But, even if you do charity because you want to be seen as a good person, children of poor families still experience pleasure from the “charity.” I think what motivate you to do charity does not matter.
To me, this form of charity brought me a benefit of learning. I learned a lot through this experience such as a joy of working with enthusiastic people in the community, getting to know some of them better through this activity, a world that I did not know before.
The gifts, including toys,bikes, and gift cards, were sorted and placed in big boxs before we distributed them on that day.
These boxes were piled up and occupied this large gym.
I did not know Salvation Army was a religious organization with a chapel.
Hogs (Harley Davidsons people) were all over in the Salvation Army on that day, directing traffic and loading the gifts into the cars. They come to help every year. My impression of them was they were only “good time” people until that day. They are absolutely not. They were responsible, warm, intelligent and funny.
This semester was really wonderful learning about Christianity and American history and literature. I read part of the New Testament and learned Catholic history from ancient Greek & Roman times to the Reformation by Luther. Also, I learned American history from discovery of America up to Civil war through my American literature class. It was very good for me to take both classes at the same time because Christianity tells a lot about American culture.
Also, my discovery of Emerson really shocked me. I read his essay “Self-Reliance” in the class, and what he tells in the essay is what I have been thinking since I was a teen; I found myself here. I do like Jesus’s teaching, and he is a contemporary Jesus follower. Christmas day did not have meaning (other than party time) for me until this year. Also, Emerson’s birthday now is special for me.
Have a very Merry Christmas to you all! Stay warm, Be happy!!