One Sunday I went to my temple at 9:30, and walked in and saw a half dozen people working in the kitchen. They were all members of my Temple Youth group.
"What can l do?" I said, and a knife was handed to me. I started putting peanut butter on a slice of white bread. Then it became ten pieces and then I was putting the jelly slices together, too. I piled them up and someone else took the sandwiches and bagged them with a chocolate bar, an apple, and a drink. We weren't packing lunch for ourselves, though. After we'd made about 150 bagged lunches, we took a school bus into New York City and delivered the food to the homeless.
The first stop was at a shelter where 15 people were sitting and either watching television, reading the newspaper, or just sitting and talking to a friend. Some were middle-aged and some were older. We walked in and put a box of sandwiches on a table, and started to hand them out. The people were very grateful and said thank you with huge smiles on their faces.
The next stop was in Central Park. My face felt the cool air and my jacket was zipped up. We walked around, looking for homeless people who were in need. If we found a homeless person sleeping, we put the lunch bag next to him so when he woke up, he could have it. Each one of us grabbed two or three bags and handed them out to the homeless. Some people took the sandwiches and smiled and said thank you. Some grabbed the sandwich and kept on walking, and one person mocked us. He took the sandwich and said, "What is it, peanut butter and jelly again?" Then he yelled out, "Free sandwiches!" When we heard him yell, I felt as if we weren't appreciated.
Then we saw a place where people were sitting and went over with sandwiches. These people lived in an alley with big pieces of wood leaning against poles. It was dirty, dusty, and smelled like rotten eggs and bananas. Inside I felt really glad that I live where I lived and for the fact that I have my family who is alive, safe, and happy. I also felt bad for these homeless who live where they do.
Overall this was a very mixed feeling experience. It made me see how lucky I am to be who I am and to be living where I live. But also I felt so bad for the homeless people. When I saw what their shelters looked like, I wanted to go and clean them up and make them nice. I think that in addition to the city giving the homeless food, they should build shelters where they will be warm, comfortable, and safe from the cold.
Meanwhile, I think that more people my age should get involved in helping. They could go on trips with their youth group as I did, or they could go with a school group as a field trip. I'm glad that I did my part. fl
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.