Editor’s Note: In early June, MetroFamily staff, their families and any available 2018 Cover Kids (over age 8) and their parents helped pack food for the Regional Food Bank. Our reviewer, Sam, participated with this group and provides this report of the experience.
Reviewer: Samuel Roldán, age 11
What made the experience stand out?
There are not that many volunteer opportunities for kids my age so getting to lend a hand was new for me. You usually have to be older for almost everything else and sometimes, you have to have a driver’s license. I definitely cannot drive but that wasn’t a problem. It was good to know I was actually able to help people without being any older. We scooped dry pinto beans from a big box into little plastic sacks and weighed them. That doesn’t really require any special skills a fifth grader like me wouldn’t have. Every kid age 8 and up could help somehow.
What was the best part?
I liked knowing that other people were going to get the food we packed. My Dad is a teacher at a public school here and he tells us almost every day about students who do not have enough to eat. That really hangs over me; it makes me sad, especially because I can’t fix it. Besides helping my community, what I liked was that it became kind of a competition to see who could work the fastest. I started to think of it as a race against time because we had to finish up by noon and the more we packed, the more meals kids could get. We made more than 1,000 meals with just our little group!
What was the worst part?
Not having enough time to make more meals and knowing that people need them hurts. I wanted to stay longer. I thought the worst part was going to be sweeping up but that was fun too because the brooms are bigger than a regular one.
Will other kids like volunteering at the Regional Food Bank?
Yes, I think they will. There are other tasks you could do besides scooping or weighing beans. I didn’t get to see those areas of the facility but I know they’re there. What kids will like no matter what is being able to make any kind of difference.
If you could do this again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would be more excited to go! I didn’t know what it was going to be like but I was up for anything. I was really happy to spend time with my Mom. I have three brothers and one of them is a new baby so it’s not every single day Mom and I get to spend time together. She woke me up early to go and first we went to breakfast together then to a farmers’ market. The day was all about food!
Does anything you learned match up with what you’re doing in school or have seen on TV, in a book or somewhere else before?
I got to weigh the beans, which matched up with some math skills I learned in school. The bags could be between 1.98 and 2.2 pounds. It’s easier to think about decimals and about kilograms, pounds and ounces if you can see a quantity. I never really saw a quantity in my mind before now. The next time I do math, I’ll probably think about weighing beans. The experience reminded me of when you measure medicine because I know you shouldn’t give someone too much or too little. Same with food, even though you wouldn’t poison anyone. I wanted it to be fair and the right amount for families. I’m going to be an engineer when I grow up. I know math is important but I never thought about it relating to kids and what they need to eat.
What do you think you’ll remember most about volunteering?
I felt like at least we could do something to help the kids I hear about who go to bed hungry and the people on the news who are real humans, not percentages or numbers. Just because you can’t do everything to help doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Kids really can help other kids if you let us. When can we go back?