A Tradition of Service

How do you use your talents to help others?

Each weekend before Christmas the tempting aromas of ginger, cloves and cinnamon permeate our kitchen as jovial friends and family gather. Freshly baked gingerbread for miniature houses are laid out on the table, and bowls of candy and homemade icing cover the countertops. We eagerly coat the gingerbread shapes with icing and adorn them with colorful candy patterns. Once the walls and roofs are covered with sweets, each house is assembled on a tinfoil-covered cardboard platform coated with snow-like white icing and coconut “snowflakes,” licorice paths, and the like. My family strongly believes that the true Christmas spirit includes sharing with others, so one house remains with us and the others are wrapped in brightly colored cellophane, tied with festive ribbons, and given away. Each child takes a small gingerbread house to school to share with classmates and gives cookies to teachers and staff. The largest house and other treats are brought to our church to be taken to a homeless shelterThis spirit, however, does not surface at Christmas time only, but rather illustrates a spirit manifest in our house throughout the year. My mother has always tried to make community service an exciting and fun-filled family project, and throughout the year as a child I would help my mother cook meals, bake deserts, and purchase necessities for a senior citizens’ center in connection with our church’s community service program. The example my mother set by giving her time to help those less fortunate has inspired me to use my own talents to help others and give back to the community. Tutoring at the Coachman Family Center has been a wonderful experience because I have been able to interact with children with a completely different set of life experiences. I derive internal satisfaction from these visits by helping children, and I realized the extent to which I can positively affect the lives of others when one child informed me that my tutoring was integral to his passing his final math exam. My experience tutoring, as well as my love for debate, inspired me to look for a way to use my debate talent to help others. I have volunteered to teach members of the Scarsdale Middle School speech and debate club and have worked to promote the VOICES Foundation, an organization that raises money for the purpose of allowing underprivileged children to participate in debate. These experiences have inspired me to consider other ways that I can use my talents to help others, such as by founding and coaching a debate program in an inner city school. Debate has proven to be both an enjoyable and intellectually enriching activity for me and I would like others to have the opportunity to have the same experience. I know my family’s Christmas tradition gave me the inspiration to serve others, and I am eager to continue helping others in meaningful ways in the future.

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