My Newest Hero

Erisa Murati, Albania, Kansas State University

My last but most significant volunteering experience was on Saturday, December 3rd at the Lighthouse Clothes Closet and Food Pantry center, which offers free clothes and food packages for people in need. My responsibilities there were almost the same as the ones at Encore Shop, organizing food on the shelves, cleaning the food pantry, checking and picking up clothes, but it’s the feeling I got from this experience that made it worth more than all the hours I have spent writing papers and doing assignments. I just want to share my feelings about this Saturday’s experience. I have to admit that after I went back home I cried and I realized that something inside of me was different…

When you come from another country to the U.S. you say you did it, you are now in the land of dreamers. You expect everything to shine bright and be just like in the movies and it really is in a lot of places… but that’s not all you should see. There is a dark side even to this giant shiny living moon called America; there are life pages full of stories, stories that you will never get to hear in TV shows, not even read in any books. These are the shy stories that stay there in the corner, they don’t even ask for attention, they don’t shout out just to be recognized. I know inside they burn powerfully, but they also cry with bitter tears.

And I thought about the new jacket I last bought; should I apologize to the kid who is now searching through the used clothes to find his favorite superhero costume? I’m sorry my dear I never knew you existed, I never knew that yesterday, and the day before yesterday, and maybe everyday you were asking your mom for that superhero costume you just found in the pile.

Yes I just put it over there and do you know what I was thinking about during that time? How gloomy for a superhero to be in the pile of used clothes! Yes, I was basically talking with him: How is it possible that you were not able to make the world a better place superhero, how? Why are you here? In fact you don’t really deserve to be used again…
But he never replied. No little kid, he never replied till I saw him in your hands, speaking with only a proud smile. You should have seen how proud he was for you, his future little brave friend. And what I thought is that recovery is possible and superheroes just need someone like you, kid, to take them out of the pile and be brave enough to try saving this world.

There was hope for you now, kid, and I felt better about this, but I realized that suddenly I needed a superhero to help me recover my emotions, or some kind of mystical ointment. But all I have for now is this experience and you little kid, you will be in the list of my superheroes, because you are one and I really hope you will be able to change your world.

This was the scenario that happened in my head, while I was pulling out of a bag a used Superman costume and putting it in the kids’ clothes pile. No more than 10 minutes later a kid found it in the pile and he was so happy about it, telling to his mom all the stories he knew about Superman and how he wanted to play with the costume and look like a superhero. Such an inspiring and significant experience.

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