The Larger Half

Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.

Most people do not realize how much work making sandwiches really involves. Slicing tomatoes, spreading the toppings, positioning the lettuce just right, and selecting the meat to put on requires a delicate touch. Of course you could just slop it together, but then you would lose the heart of the sandwich. I learned this working for Elijah’s Promise, a nonprofit in New Brunswick, an organization devoted to feeding, clothing, and lifting up the homeless.

I made my first sandwich when I was twelve, throwing all the ingredients together haphazardly. Miss Janette stopped me, took me by the hand, and said “no, like this child.” She carefully prepared all of her ingredients, then lined up five rows by ten columns of hoagie rolls and began assembly with care. She placed every ingredient in the exact position before taking my hands and showing me how to do the same. She was an artist. When she finished, Miss Janette made me taste my sandwich and then hers. The difference was impossible. I couldn’t believe positioning some vegetables differently affected the flavor of the sandwich but she smiled and said “a little bit of love makes all the difference.” Every month, we would make 500 sandwiches.

When I got older I began assisting in the distribution process. Seeing the faces of those unable to afford food, light up at being given a simple sandwich changed my perspective. It helped me realize how fortunate I was never having to worry about where my next meal was coming from and worry about if I would have a roof over my head. Contributing in such a small way seemed to make a huge difference. After seeing the impact a thoughtful act can have, it became a part of my everyday life to strive to slow down and give with care to those who need it most.

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