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Sarah Selman, a happy helper at Warm Blessings

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Student volunteerism: Schools page June series

By Becca Owsley

Sarah Selman might have started volunteering at Warm Blessings soup kitchen to get Beta Club service hours, but long after she filled that requirement, she keeps volunteering.

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A 12-year-old student at LaRue County Middle School, she was surprised she liked washing dishes and cleaning up after people.

“I just like to help them because they are having a hard time,” she said.

For Selman, there’s no excuse for kids her age not to help out. While she keeps busy with being a straight-A student and participating in activities such as Beta, speech and book clubs, she always has time to volunteer. Finishing the Harry Potter series didn’t stop her, either.

She even worked after tearing a ligament in her left ankle. Wearing a support boot on her ankle was uncomfortable and hot, but Selman kept volunteering.

“If you’re just sitting at home and have nothing to do, why don’t you just come here,” she said, referring to Warm Blessings. “It’s not that much work to do. All you do is serve people food and clean up after them. Why not?”

The experience has taught her to think of others first, she said. She counts it a blessing to help people and has grown to love the people there.

She has empathy for people who are going through difficult times.

“My heart just drops,” she said.

Selman has not only become fond of the people she serves but also the people she’s serving alongside.

“I like it here,” she said.

While volunteering she tries to make the people feel good about themselves. If she’s not busy in the food line she’ll sit down and talk to people and listen to their stories.

Selman also recognizes the importance to be sweet and polite to people and for people to use their manners.

Some nights there are a lot of volunteers but some nights she’s noticed a need for more help. The evening coordinator puts her to work wherever she’s needed. She’s usually there one night a week from 5 to 7 p.m.

She admitted it is more fun to wash dishes and clean up at Warm Blessings than it is at home.

If other kids her age want to help, she thinks summer is great time to start. They work in a variety of shifts that are split between cooking, cleaning and serving.

"It is always great to have volunteers who are faithful and willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done and Sarah approaches her work at Warm Blessings with that attitude," Executive Board Chairwoman Linda Funk said. "She is positive and friendly, which is important to our patrons and other volunteers."

Selman moved from simply completing required volunteer service to showing true compassion for others, the true point of community service, Funk said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen:
609 E. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown
(270) 763-9276
www.warmblessingsinc.com