Into the Heart of Darkness

Describe a defining moment in your life.

As a sixth-grader obsessed with the Seattle Mariners, I read the newspaper only for the sports page. One morning, however, I came upon a special pullout section as I thumbed for my section. It was entitled “Into the Heart of Darkness,” and I nearly skipped it as I had the hundreds that came before and after it. What caused me to linger on this section was the picture consuming most of the front page, a photo I will never forget. It was of a young boy in a tattered hat, his suffering evident from the meek, dark look in his eyes.Provoked by the poignant image, I began reading the article detailing the horrendous conditions of Romanian orphans. Lacking adequate shelter, clothing, and medical supplies, they were preparing to face a tough winter. By the time I finished reading the article, goose bumps covered my body. I felt obligated to help, but the problem seemed too hefty and inevitable for a young girl to tackle. For a few weeks, the images and words haunted me as I continued my everyday life.As the holiday season neared, my family continued the tradition of rolling beeswax candles for gifts. The idea occurred to my friend and I that we could sell these candles and donate the profits to charity. Helping Hearts, the business we developed out of this idea, raised over $10,000 for Romanian orphans over several years. Perhaps I would have found ways to help the needy without reading “Into the Heart of Darkness” that morning. All I know is that the image of that boy moved something in me that I know will shape decisions for the rest of my life. Besides donating Helping Hearts proceeds to the orphans, I have also become a leader at the local Second Harvest Food Bank. In the coming years I will continue to help the needy in our community – both international and local – as best I can.

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