As part of a co-ed honors fraternity in college, we were always looking for opportunities to do community service.
As a group we had planned a trip strictly for pleasure to New York City. The first day several of us were walking around and saw a commotion outside a soup kitchen. Three people were running in and out carrying grocery bags and looking absolutely frazzled. We walked by and overheard that the electricity had gone out and they had no way to prepare dinner for the 300 hungry individuals they were expecting. They had already done the prep work for the planned meal, (lasagna), but with the power out had no way to bake it.
I, being the outgoing loud-mouth of the group (who also doesn't think before she speaks in many instances,) blurted out, "Do you need some help?"
Our afternoon of window shopping and sight-seeing vanished in an instant... My face turned red as I realized what I had just done without even consulting my friends who were with me. I had basically volunteered THEIR time too. I looked around in a panic expecting to receive the *look of death* from my fraternity brothers. Instead, I heard "YEAH, what can we do to help?" in tones of excitement, I was so relieved, and so proud of my friends.
The next 60 to 90 minutes were a whirlwind. We made a few phone calls to the other people in our group who had dispersed all over the city to sight-see and soon 20 of us were in the dark kitchen making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Knowing that we had the sandwich making under control, that gave the regular workers time to go find some other side items that wouldn't require cooking.
Because the heat and lights were also out, we were not allowed to open the doors to the guests, but by 5:00 on the dot, we had 300 boxed meals ready to hand out on the street to those who were hoping for a meal.
No, this action was not grandiose or Earth-shattering. It didn't even take much of a commitment; it really only took about an hour of our time, but in that moment, on that day, our random act of kindness helped 300 hungry people in NYC have a free dinner.
Years later when I talk to my friends who were on that trip, we always go back to that hour or hour and a half where we jumped in and made a small difference... We spent 48 hours in the city, but our lasting, and most meaningful memory was that small block of time where we put others before ourselves.