Between events and restaurants and hanging out with friends, volunteering doesn’t usually cross my mind as a weekend activity.
Especially when the highs were in the fifties this weekend, also known as summer for us Wisconsin kids.
When I volunteered to help out at The Community Table, I wasn’t sure it was really where I wanted to spend the afternoon of the nicest day of the year.
But after donating my time and working with the community for a few hours, I can say it was one of the most valuable weekend activities I have ever done.
According to its website, since 1993 The Community Table has been serving meals to those who need hot food and a little generosity. While they first started serving just two meals a week, the program has expanded to one meal a day, 365 days a year.
My four hours of volunteer work consisted of preparing the meal, the dining area, serving the meal and cleaning up, but the most memorable was interacting with community members who desperately needed a friendly face.
Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to the guests, it was amazing to see how a few kind words or a smile could make their day a little better.
Director Rachel Keniston was also very enthusiastic. She made sure all of the volunteers had things to do and constantly reminded us how grateful she was for our help.
Knowing that guests needed me, but also that the work I was doing wasn’t going unnoticed was an awesome feeling.
As students, it is easy to let UW-Eau Claire drain our time. We often forget there is a life, a community outside of college.
I volunteered with eight other team members from the AmeriCorps ECLIPSE program because another group backed out at the last minute and no one signed up, but within the time we were there at least 15 other community members, including one family, who showed up to volunteer.
It was inspiring to see people who were willing to sacrifice a beautiful afternoon in order to lend a hand to those in need.
We are fortunate enough to attend a school that requires service learning hours, and instead of complaining, students should take advantage of this. There are too many of us, myself included, who don’t realize what it means until you have actually done it.
So next time you’re looking for something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, instead of going the traditional route and spending money with your friends, spend a little of your time with friends giving back.
Hours for The Community Table and additional information on how to volunteer can be found at their website, thecommunitytable.org.