Lauren Knoll, 13, of Fargo, N.D., a seventh-grader at Park Christian School, has been volunteering once a month for the past nine years at a local homeless center, preparing and serving meals, and visiting with the homeless. She also has participated in several community service events sponsored by her church, school, the Salvation Army and a local animal shelter. Lauren was encouraged to volunteer by her mother, who also started serving her community when she was very young. One day Laurens brother came home from school and said he needed to find a community service project. Their mother made some calls and discovered a shelter that needed help for Thanksgiving. We decided that we wanted to do this every month, said Lauren. It is important for me to do this because I need a constant reminder of my blessings and to take the spotlight off of me and put it onto others.
Each month, Lauren, along with her grandmother, mother and two brothers, goes to the shelter to prepare a meal for people in need. She cuts vegetables to make salads and vegetable trays, helps prepare and cook a main course, slices fruit, pours drinks and arranges trays of desserts. She then sits down and visits with the people who come to eat. When I see their faces light up after receiving a warm meal or a big hug, it makes my heart soar, said Lauren. I love volunteering because I love planting that seed of hope in hearts that seem to be running low.