Making a meaningful contribution

To truly help out with a cause, people need to both actively help and work to increase awareness.

I remember participating in The Walk my sophomore year. All around me, students shivered in their black T-shirts. As I finished positioning the red “X” on my stomach, senior Adam Chase climbed onto the top of a van with a megaphone. The sky turned pink behind him as he reminded us about the children in Africa who walk every night for a safe place to sleep. After 10 or 15 minutes, we started walking to school.

I felt important that day, like I was doing something that was larger than myself. But a question lurked in the back of my mind. What was this really accomplishing? Yes, I was raising awareness about a very important issue (at least, I’m hoping the people in the cars driving by knew what we were doing) but was that helping to solve the problem?

This year, I’m an active member of Key Club. The meetings have been relatively informal, just a cluster of students around a library table looking over papers describing different community service projects. One of the monthly projects is to provide birthday gifts and cupcakes/cakes to low-income children. I signed up to bring a present for a girl named Ashuana.

This act required less than $15 and hardly any of my time. Yet when I brought the present to club sponsor Carolyn LaFever, I felt like I was a part of something again. This simple gift was going directly to a child. Even though that girl now has a birthday present, however, no one outside Key Club has any idea that there’s an issue. I’ve helped someone, but if no one else knows about it, her situation will never get any better.

If all a person does is help others without raising awareness, he sends the message to others that he cares, but it’s all right if they don’t. And if all that person does is try to raise awareness without actively helping out in any capacity, he’s kind of a hypocrite. He possibly goes so far as to chastise people for not doing anything, when he himself is not really doing anything except giving other people a hard time. The only way to truly aid a cause is to combine the strengths of organizations like Coalition and Key Club to actively help a situation and work to increase awareness.

Lauren Komer