by David Cardwell, 14, US
It was a cold December day. A light snow was on the ground,
and all the leaves were long gone. It was overcast, as it usually
is in Indiana during winter. Joey was walking to school. He was
very excited, because that day was the day when he would be helping
the needy. He walked past all the houses, some of which were elegant
old homes which had been completely restored by the owners. The
rest were brand new homes designed by the owners. They all had
sport utility vehicles in their driveways. He noticed the spotlights
in the yards of the houses. Those must be so that people could
see the houses as they are driving past at night, Joey thought.
He saw the Christmas lights and wreaths on the houses. Joey liked
Christmas, it was a very happy time for him. Suddenly, Joey felt
something heavy and cold on his head and fell over. A pile of
snow had fallen out of a tree on to him. He got up, shook the
snow out of his brown hair, and continued walking. He arrived
at his school. It was a huge private school called St. Robert
Elementary. He walked inside and went to class.
The teacher reminded all the children of the food drive. Joey's
class had been saving cans of food up for months.
"Excuse me, Miss Clarke, but how much longer is it going to be
until we go and help those people?"
"We will leave at the end of the day, Joey."
Joey was very excited that he was going to help people. He likes
helping people because they say thank you and he feels good. Some
children had spent their allowance to help buy more cans for the
donation. There was soup, vegetables, fruit, and canned meat.
They had hundreds of cans of food, and it was ready to be delivered
to the food pantry for the needy people. All the cans were in
boxes and bags and loaded on the school bus. Everyone was really
happy, and it was Christmas, the can drive had been more successful
than they had expected. They were going to help the needy.
At the end of the day the kids were loaded on the bus and left
for the food pantry a few blocks away. They all couldn't wait
to give the food to the pantry. It was like waiting for Christmas.
As the bus continued, the kids noticed a slow change in what the
houses in the neighborhoods looked like. It changed from expensive
mansions to low-rent housing. The houses weren't being taken care
of. There was garbage in the streets, as well as on the yards
of the houses. There was a liquor store on every block. Every
wall they had seen was totally covered with many layers of graffiti.
The mood changed a little. Joey started feeling a bit sad for
the people who didn't have the money to fix their houses. He also
felt angry that no one seemed to care about the garbage and graffiti.
A few minutes later, the children arrived at the food pantry.
The food pantry was next to a church. The church wasn't like the
churches that the children were used to. It was very small, and
was a converted warehouse. Joey was now kind of unsure about their
good deed. The needy people were needier than Joey had thought.
The food pantry was a staircase down from the sidewalk to a little
underground room. An old, kind looking man emerged from the little
room and walked up the staircase. He showed the children where
to put the cans. Everyone helped unload the cans off the bus.
Joey took a box of cans down into the little room, and squeezed
it into a corner. He came back up for another load. As Joey came
to the bus to get another box of cans, something happened; a rock
hit Joey on the head. He dropped his cans and fell down and flopped
like a fish. He lay on the cold concrete half-conscious. Some
children looked across the street and saw who had thrown the stone.
A few kids from the neighborhood had walked up and one had thrown
the rock at Joey. The nice man who ran the food pantry stopped
his work, his face showing his shock and anger. He ran across
the street to talk to the kids.
All of the children could hear the man talk to the kids who had
thrown the stone. The man shouted, "What do you think you are
doing, throwing a stone at that kid?"
"We don't need any help from those rich kids," one replied.
"That's why you threw a stone at that one? Stop throwing stones
at the people who are trying to help you and go away." the man
said. The kids started yelling and cussing at the old man. He
told them to go away again and came back across the street. The
kids slowly moved off.
Some students woke Joey up and the class continued unloading
the food. Joey was taken on to the bus and he sat down. It no
longer felt like a party. The man who ran the pantry said the
food would serve its purpose. It would be good for people who
were in need. He regretted what had happened. The children got
back on the bus and drove back to St. Robert's. All the kids talked
about what happened and asked Joey many questions. Joey wasn't
hurt, and everyone was glad. The children and the teachers didn't
talk in class about what had happened. Each one must have thought
about it alone. Joey was sad that people didn't want his help,
even though he really wanted to help them.