Doing “CJ’s 20 for 20”, #CJs20for20, led me on a priceless journey to self-realization, self-acceptance, and a whole new level of gratitude. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start a brand new decade; helping people through acts of kindness – big and small – and spreading some of the love and light that I’ve been so blessed to receive over all these years.
August 1, 2015: When I was deciding which organizations I wanted to donate to and spread the word about, Thea’s Star of Hope stood out right away. I’ve always loved getting involved with organizations that are geared towards bettering the lives of children. Thea’s Star of Hope does their best to do just that. Thousands of children live with brain tumors, the second-leading cause of cancer mortality in kids after leukemia. Thea’s Star of Hope’s mission is to improve the treatment experience for kids with brain tumors. The organization and the representatives I spoke to were all so warm and grateful for any kind of recognition and help.
August 12/13, 2015: Donating and bringing light to ASPCA, No Kid Hungry, and the American Red Cross. We always see these ads flash across our televisions or our computers, but rarely do we ever take action. My first step is donating; my second step is contacting my local organizations to see how else I can help.
August 14, 2015: Surprised my favorite summertime partner-in-crime with flowers on the last day of camp. It was so hard choosing to not go back to camp after working with my Momma P for 3 years. After hearing about how rough her summer had gone, I just knew I had to stop by with sunflowers and a smile! (This was taken after she had stopped crying/hitting me for making her cry).
August 15, 2015: I have been waiting to do this for about 2 years now. I had my heart set on cutting and donating my hair, but something always came up to keep me from going through with it. But when I started CJ’s 20 for 20, it finally felt like the right time. A weight was literally lifted off my shoulders this morning.
August 14, 2015: Spent some time with my dad, who was the first to encourage me to get involved at the community soup kitchen. It was so humbling to serve members of my community who have so little but had nothing but smiles and happy hearts. Working alongside my dad to feed our community members and bring some comfort into their lives opened my eyes to how truly blessed I am to have a roof over my head, food on the table, and clothes on my back.
August 20, 2015: Started my Friday right, at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen! Dropped off 35+ dinner bags and over 20 pounds of hygiene products. Dad and I also got a tour of the facilities and a schedule for future volunteering.
“So, what was the best part?”
It’s hard to decide what the best part of my experience was – especially because it isn’t quite over yet! (“WHAT?!” you say? Keep reading!) But what changed me the most, was volunteering at the local soup kitchen – seeing all of these people who struggle to make ends meet, but still manage to keep a positive attitude and compassionate hearts? Knowing that this meal was probably their only meal of the day, but they still greeted everyone with a smile. I had gone to the soup kitchen to help feed my community, but I’m pretty sure I’m the one who left with so much more.
“Hey, CJ, why did you do this in the first place?”
I’ve gotten this question a lot, to be quite honest. Other people my age would be planning lavish parties or going down the shore with the friends, not spending 3+ hours at a soup kitchen or researching which organizations accept colored-hair donations.
My answer: is that I wanted to; I needed to. When it comes down to it, I really couldn’t ask for much more for my birthday. I have my incredibly supportive family and friends, my health, and my faith – what more could I ask for?
It’s hard to believe that “CJ’s 20 for 20” is over … OR IS IT? SURPRISE! I had such an incredible experience celebrating my birthday through Acts of Kindness that I’ll be extending “CJ’s 20 for 20” until next year – when I turn twenty-one. Seeing that school is starting soon, I won’t be able to go and do bigger acts of kindness everyday; maybe on the weekends. But I’ll continue to stay on high alert for any opportunity to spread some light in the world.
Contributed By: Sister Coreen Joyce Alagar – Local Congregation of Central New Jersey, Ecclesiastical District of Northeastern Seaboard