For centuries, we have questioned whether humans are naturally good or bad. I believe that our first impulses are selfless and good. Many research studies have tried to answer this question and have also often found that our inherent nature is good, such as a recent study published by Scientific American. However, I confirmed my answer to this question when I saw it through my own eyes while trying to raise funds to sponsor and distribute meals as part of my “Meal for a Dime” campaign.
In the spring of 2020, India was placed in a complete lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rendering many migrant laborers in the country homeless and without basic necessities. I worked with local volunteers in Siliguri, a small town in West Bengal, India, to raise funds to provide fresh, hot meals to families in need. By reaching out to friends, families, and organizations, I ultimately raised enough funds to provide around 47,000 meals to workers in Siliguri over the course of my campaign. I was overwhelmed when I received donations from people around the world, many of whom did not even live in India where the meals were being provided.
I continued my campaign this year by working with the Trenton Soup Kitchen and have provided around 100 meals to families in the Trenton area so far. What resonated with me the most throughout my fundraisers was the passion and enthusiasm that people had for supporting a cause that would help people in need. Countless people continue to dedicate their lives to this type of work with such eagerness and kindness, and some who I have encountered — such as Mr. Paul Jensen of the Trenton Soup Kitchen — represent the best of humanity.
I was also fortunate enough to help organize and experience an event at my school, Princeton Day School, that only made me further realize the generosity of people around us. At the end of this school year, we held an event called “The Great Giveaway” where students donated any usable school supplies, including notebooks, pencils, and paper that they no longer needed to the Eastern Service Workers Association’s free store in Trenton. To facilitate this, we set up bins across the school, filtered through the supplies that we received, and loaded the boxes of supplies on a truck that was taken to Trenton. Student volunteers spent around three hours after school on the last day of classes to help with these tasks, collecting 21 boxes in total. One of the adults that was instrumental in all of the planning for this event and helped the students throughout the entire process was Ms. Liz Cutler, the school’s sustainability director, who demonstrated to me what true drive is.
She promoted the event and encouraged students to donate, but above all she emphasized that students should understand the purpose of the event and want to donate.
Having seen firsthand the natural generosity of many and the passion that adults like Ms. Cutler and Mr. Jensen bring to their work, who inspire not only me but countless others of my generation to do more for others, I am motivated to help foster a world where people naturally gravitate to help each other.
Junior at Princeton Day School