Megan Braun column: Making a difference by volunteering

Published 12:18 am Monday, January 26, 2015

When people think about volunteering or community service, the first thing that comes to mind may be helping out at the local soup kitchen or collecting money for a charity. While these are great ways to help and are certainly much needed, there are so many other options to choose from when setting out to make a difference.

Beginning to contribute to others very early on in life brings an abundance of pride, skill and loyalty.

Five-year-old Rylan Furr had an idea that would bring smiles to tons of faces at Magnolia Gardens nursing home in Spencer. Furr collected donations of cotton candy from the community to pass out at the nursing home. The facility cared for his “Mimi,” Frances Lineberger, before her passing last February.

Upon delivery of the sweet treats, residents found a miniature Santa Claus ready to spread holiday cheer.

“It made me feel good,” Furr said about his experience.

“It made us very proud. He came up with the idea all by himself,” his mother, Melissa Secreast, said.

As one who is involved in several different charities and organizations, I have personally gained so much from the experiences. Last December, I traveled to West Virginia with a group of area church members as a part of the Sharing Shepherds mission. Over the course of a few weeks, donations of gifts, food items and money were collected for needy families in the rural parts of West Virginia.

The picture of poverty one might get from living in Rowan County is nothing compared to what I witnessed on the mission trip. This experience delivering gifts and food staples opened my eyes to just how lucky I am to have running water and electricity. The most beneficial part of the entire trip was seeing the children’s faces light up with joy after unwrapping a gift, whether it be socks, a princess toothbrush or a coloring book. Everything in life came into perspective in that one moment.

Because there are so many opportunities to offer assistance to others, volunteering is an excellent way to learn a new skill, plus it looks great on college applications and job resumes. There is a lot to be learned from service work.

Over the next few weeks, the Salisbury Post will be featuring several local children and teenagers who also dedicate their time to serving others and making a difference. Getting involved at an early age improves social skills and is a great way to stay active. The goal of this series of stories is to showcase the youth of Rowan County and recognize the efforts that sometimes go unnoticed.