By: Aybuke Saldir, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Participant

Aybuke Saldir is a Work and Travel participant from Turkey. In her blog post she discusses her experience volunteering at the local Salvation Army.

I wish I had started helping them sooner. But it’s never too late.

I’ve been in U.S. for almost three months. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t volunteer until these last two weeks; I put my job first. But even in these two weeks I learned something good.

Two weeks ago, I talked with the Salvation Army. They were happy to see that I wanted to volunteer. They sent me to talk with Kathy from the Salvation Army Thrift Store. The first time we talked, she said there was so much to do and asked if I could start right then. I didn’t believe her at first, but 2 hours later I was canceling my plans with my friends.

The work that I was doing was not hard, actually. I was just cataloging clothes, hanging them. I met so many different people and heard their stories.

After two weeks, I’ve come to the end of my working days. You might be wondering what I learned from these volunteer days. One of them is that I realized how lucky I am. Don’t get me wrong, there is no shame in shopping at thrift stores. But I know so many people who spend their money on useless things, while some people don’t have a chance to choose. I wish I had started helping them sooner. But it’s never too late.

I also learned something when I was leaving and saying my goodbyes. Everyone was thanking me for my hard work, like I had done something big. When I said, “I did nothing, I should be thanking you for letting me help,” Kathy told me, “Everything counts.” Those two words stuck to me.

I think these words explain what volunteering means. It doesn’t have to be big or little. As long as you want to do something, help people or the environment, pr anything you can think of, just do it. Because, everything counts.