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Volunteers Stories

BY DYLAN BOUTOTE/Volunteer Age 16

New Volunteer
I volunteered at a recent picnic at the Veterans Memorial home - Menlo Park in Edison, New Jersey. I enjoyed helping the veterans because it made them happy to see us. My cousin and I took orders, gave out food and also served drinks. Famous Dave’s Legendary Barbeque catered great food the veterans enjoyed. The ribs were particularly good and most people ate them.

The American Red Cross is a great opportunity to help people. You will be proud of yourself if you volunteer.



A Perfect Summer Day for a Veterans Picnic
This past summer I coordinated a picnic for seventy Veterans at the Lyons VA Hospital in New Jersey. The day was warm and sunny, a wonderful August day. The vets arrived at the picnic area on a bus that drove them the short distance from the hospital down the driveway to the picnic grounds. The vets got in line to get their lunch. The menu included BBQ chicken and grilled hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad, a garden salad of fresh Jersey tomatoes and other garden vegetables, sliced watermelon, bushels of Jersey peaches, cakes and cookies, and Root Beer. I watched the veterans move through the line choosing their own lunch plate. It was very comforting to seeing their eyes light up as they saw what was available.

We had fun music playing in the background and vets and volunteers alike were singing along. I walked around and talked to many of the vets. We talked of lazy days gone by. I remember looking across the picnic grounds and I watched as one elderly vet happily ate a fresh peach with the summer sun shining on his face. There were many kind words of thanks and hugs from the veterans before they went back to their rooms. As I watched the vets head back to the hospital, I thought it had been the perfect summer day for them. I was so pleased that the veterans were able to get away from their normal routine and enjoy themselves. For me, the memory of the day is still vivid in my mind and probably will be for a while.


BY VEENA KUMAR/Volunteer Age 17

A Little Goes a Long Way
Of all my memories from summers in India, there is one that particularly stands out. I was walking along the dusty roads to a supermarket, and noticed that there was a line of beggars that stretched from the door to the other side of the building. Frail women stood with their babies, clasping their hands for money. Old men with canes hobbled to the front and reached desperately for the customers who nonchalantly went about their business. One grappled for my arm -- I pulled it back, stunned. “Please…money…” he pleaded. Feeling extremely uncomfortable, I handed him a 10 rupee note (about 20 cents) and ran into the store. When I came out, I was surprised to see that he was still there, and had been singing my praises the whole time. His eyes gleamed with hope and optimism.

Whenever I work with the Red Cross, I always remember that story. Red Cross helps millions of poor and sick people survive through programs such as Meals on Wheels, Disaster Relief and Preparation, and Blood Drives. My role at the Red Cross deals mostly with administrative aspects -- for example, organizing and sending out blood drive schedules, working at blood drives, inputting satisfaction surveys for Red Cross programs onto the web site, and calling inactive volunteers to update the database. However, I know that although it may not seem like much, the small things I do make a difference. People in the Central Jersey area who want to donate blood first look at my schedules. Even when I make calls to update the database, I am saving the Red Cross hundreds of dollars that might have been sent mailing letters to inactive volunteers. Instead, the money goes to implement new, life-saving programs.

It is in this way that I am able to help my community. If I could make an impact in the life of a beggar by giving him 20 cents, imagine the impact I have by dedicating my time to Red Cross -- an organization which helps millions on a daily basis. This is why I work at Red Cross.


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