In the words of a Lakota (Sioux) elder:
You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.
This defines the value of generosity in the Circle of Courage. In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness and make a positive contribution to another human life.
Six young ladies from St. Joseph’s Indian School set out to do just that before school ended. To put generosity in action, they spent a Saturday serving at The Banquet in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Several weeks earlier, I tentatively asked the girls about an outing that would focus on volunteering. Since their ideal outing generally involves shopping and eating at a fast food restaurant, I was surprised when I received a resounding “yes!”
The Banquet’s mission is to provide food and fellowship through their ministry. They provide a safe place where people can gather, receive nourishment and experience love in action.
The day of our visit, the girls participating woke up early and were outside at 8:25 for the ride to Sioux Falls. Once they settled on who was going to sit where and seat belts were on, we took off. The other houseparent and I knew that music and volume were going to be the central issue for the next two hours.
Arriving exactly on time, we went in and put on nametags. All the volunteers sat at tables while the manager announced the groups volunteering. In all, there were about 40 volunteers. When it was announced that students from St. Joseph’s were present, everyone turned to look at these young Native American women who had given up part of their Saturday. Several of them hid behind their hands, sheepish at the attention. They were the youngest volunteers in attendance.
Everyone was encouraged to talk with visitors at The Banquet. Additional instructions were given for our safety, such as not sharing our last names, not giving out money and not offering transportation. A volunteer offered up a prayer and then we went to our different areas.
In the next hour, approximately 290 people came through the doors. Of these, 48 were children. The girls poured 17 gallons of milk, plus coffee and water. They made
conversation where possible and at the end of the hour, they helped sweep and put up chairs.
Everyone met for the closing prayer. The manager made a point of saying the “St. Joseph’s girls rocked” and everyone applauded them. We were certainly invited back to help again sometime.
What I really wanted to know was what the students thought. And would they do it again? Again, I received a resounding “yes!”
Here is how they described their day of generosity:
- Cool – I really liked it a lot.
- It felt cool to help others.
- It felt good to give back.
- I liked it because I got to do something positive.
One of The Banquet’s visitors told the girls to stay in school and get as much education as she could because that’s the best way to get what she wanted.
Thank you for providing opportunities for the Lakota boys and girls to serve others! Without your generosity, these life lessons would not be possible.
Cathy S., Houseparent