Perspective of a High School Student
Over the past six or so years of my life, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in numerous service projects for the Open Arms Shelter. OAS is a home for abused and neglected kids to come when they have nowhere else to go. These kids are not bad kids; they’re normal kids whom bad things have happened to. It’s not their fault that their mom dropped them off at school then disappeared or that their dad beats them on Tuesday’s when he comes home drunk. It’s not their fault they were born into hard situations. I’ve learned that we can’t judge these kids because of their past, but instead we need to help them have a brighter future.
One day in eighth grade around Christmas time. I was sitting in class when I noticed a new girl walk in and sit quietly in the back. The next weekend, my family and I went to the shelter to help decorate for Christmas. When we walked in, I saw the same girl that joined my history class. She was a normal, nice girl who lived at the shelter and was a victim. It’s real and all around us, in the small town of Lonoke and the cities and towns all over Arkansas. These kids face adversity every day for the rest of their lives. They have to live with past memories and some have to deal with moving around to different foster homes and schools.
My family started a pumpkin business several years ago that sells wholesale pumpkins to businesses around central Arkansas. Shortly after we started growing pumpkins, we realized that God had given us a way to help the Shelter and ultimately the kids, and it was right there in front of our faces in oranges, whites, greens, yellows, you name it. Together with the Shelter Advisory Board, we organized the Great 5K Pumpkin Run and Pumpkin Patch held every year at the Lonoke Depot. Families and runners come from all around to participate. Lots of high school kids and volunteers get there early in the morning on Saturday before the sun has even thought about coming up to start unloading pumpkins and setting up. The runners stretch, the band (New Horizon) plays cool tunes, the smell of the grill wafts around making everyone drool, excitement fills the air as the race starts, little kids squeal with pleasure when they see all the pumpkins, Matt Mosler makes everyone laugh, and little kids can’t wait to run a mile with Snoopy and Woodstock. It’s a great time for the community to get together, but that’s not the reason for it. People from all over, all walks of life, come to raise money to help the kids at the shelter.
I understand that these kids can’t control all of the bad things that happen to them. That’s why they desperately need people to love them so they learn what is good in the world and the difference between right and wrong. They need us to give of our resources, our time and our prayers. I can only hope that the kids we have been able to help at the shelter have learned as many life lessons from all of us as we have learned from them.