Discovering the True Meaning of Thanksgiving

Jacilia Lin, 10th Grader || 9.12.18


On Thanksgiving Day, my brothers (and I participated in an incredibly inspiring event organized by Flintridge Prep School’s KEY Club where students and volunteers prepared and served dishes of traditional Thanksgiving food to the homeless people in Pasadena. It was one of the most influential and jubilant experiences for me to see these cheerful and happy faces when I handed out the food. I was also touched that our student volunteers were able to give homeless people that lived on the street a sense of safety and assurance that young people cared for them and would show them hope and the real meaning of kindness; something that many of them lost when they lost their homes and were forced to endure hardship and abode in the streets and park benches.

     It was a sunny, yet chilling morning. We arrived at Flintridge Prep School first to invent traditional dishes of Thanksgiving food to be served. After spending the entire morning, we transported the delectable meals to Pasadena Central Park at noon. I was expecting a handful of people to show up, but when I saw the park nearly filled with homeless my heart grew sympathetic and I prayed for all of them to find their pathway in life to comfortable living and happiness. The 4 hours of hard work and cooking was satisfying and a time I had to meet and shake hands with many high school students from Flintridge Prep, one of my dream schools. I had to wait and during that time I wondered and yearned for those happy and thankful faces I would see when I served those unfortunate citizens   I came here not for recognition, but for a job that gave me willingness and morality teachings. This experience itself could challenge all of my teachers’ instructions of character, because it taught me lessons of kindness and the right way to treat others. I came here to build courage and inscribe trust and caring actions to ensure the homeless, we all cared and were willing to use 6 hours of time to nourish and grow their strong hearts until they had the courage and spirit to fight against their hardships and create wonderful homes and futures for themselves.

     I could imagine how they lived their lives; how each night they survived without a home was a miracle. Many of different races would sleep on park benches, public restrooms, and endure pain struggling to survive and abode in comfortable living. Some people discriminate the homeless especially many that are differently colored. They say that “their hearts are darkened and those who cannot find jobs and careers are blinded from society and prove harmful to influential aspects of life”. I see senseless aspects in anybody who could find the hatred to muster those words. I look at the dirtied and crippled homeless and accept them as human beings and treat them with every manner of respect and courteousy that everyone wants to be treated with, because I still see some heart in them; and nothing will be able to change my opinion.

     That day taught me social achievement, morale lessons, and most importantly gratefulness; gratefulness of all the benefits and opportunities that awaited me such as living in such an environment that some could dream of having, that some were standing out laid under the stars while rain would drench them and they could do nothing about it, that some were starving and their stomachs would let out the most courageous and inspirational of roars as incredible as a lion’s that could tell everything more about human rights than what 100 pages of bills of rights could tell you. Many have suffered and this Thanksgiving Day was my way to give thanks and repay them of their lost homes and lost courage. I think they gained more than a full stomach of turkey and mashed potatoes, but they gained more courage and hearts to one day thrive in a society and life that awaited them. They gained power and the assuring feeling that they could take on the world and pursuit happiness as much as they wanted. That was the feeling they received and all I needed to know was their everlasting sweet and meaningful smiles that just made me feel special for a moment.