The Actors Fund’s “Looking Ahead” group volunteered with League programs “Foster Children’s Resource Center” and “Operation School Bell” in March 2016. The League offers a big Thank You to the Looking Ahead volunteers for their service!
See 17 year old Melody’s account of her volunteer experience at Operation School Bell:
On March 11, 2016, Chris, Vy, and I were lucky enough to participate in Operation School Bell at Commonwealth Avenue Elementary School. This was the first time we had done this event and it most definitely will not be the last. We met 240 incredibly adorable and grateful kids that day. The event was set up in a sort of assembly line. The kids would sign in and get a backpack including toiletries, a dictionary, and other essentials, go to a station to get brand new socks and shoes, go into a trailer to pick out new clothes and accessories, and finally they get to choose a brand new book. We were all assigned to the first station – socks and shoes. It’s really incredible when you think of how simple a need for shoes and socks really is. For me, if I needed or even wanted a new pair of shoes, it wasn’t that difficult for me to just go out with my mom and purchase them. That was not the case for these kids. Many of them were wearing shoes that were either so run down there were holes in every toe or two sizes too small. We had the job of not only fitting their feet to the correct sized socks and shoes, but also the job of being the first faces they saw. I’m so happy that we got to work one-on-one with the kids to really make it personal. Just having an interest in what grade they were in or what their favorite color was, put a smile on their face. I do have to say one of the best parts was when we would bring them a few pairs of shoes to choose from. To them, the thought of having a choice in which shoes they liked more was mind blowing. There was one reaction in particular that really resonated with me. This one little boy named Jordan, whose backpack was as big as he was, came to my station. He sat down promptly and proudly stated, “My name is Jordan. Your name is Melody, you have a nametag. I’m in kindergarten and my favorite color is red.” When he smiled he was missing one of his front two teeth. I helped him out of his shoes and socks and told him I would try to find him an awesome pair of red shoes. I went back to the many bins of new shoes looking for a pair of red shoes in size 11. I came back holding a pair of black shoes with red laces and a pair of maroon shoes. His face lit up like a Christmas tree and he squealed, “How did you know my second favorite color is black?!” He immediately grabbed the black shoes with red laces out of my hand and put them on his feet as fast as he could. Suddenly, he stopped and looked at me and said, “Melody, I can’t tie these laces. I think I need different ones.” I looked at him and said, “I could lace them up for you.” He let out an excited giggle and said, “Ok!!” After I laced up his shoes for him he stood up and started dancing around singing “I’ve got new shoes! I’ve got new shoes!” I helped him put his backpack on and he gave me a huge hug and said “Thank you, Melody, for finding me perfect shoes! I love them so much!” Hearing those words and seeing his adorably giddy and ecstatic face reminded me exactly why I am a member of Looking Ahead and why community service events are so important. I cannot wait until we do another Operation School Bell event to help kids find happiness and confidence.