I was sitting at my trusty Macbook Pro one day in March, 2010, when all of a sudden a pang of panic made itself known in the pit of my stomach. This panic had arisen because a subconscious realization had evolved consciousness in a matter of milliseconds.
Instead of stressing out about my philosophy homework, which was the norm for me last year, I realized that in just over 12 months I would be graduating from film school. But what was causing my current panic was the realization that I had no plans for the summer, which was rapidly approaching.
Everyone else at my film school had internships with major Hollywood films or working as an apprentice in a post-production lab somewhere in Los Angeles, while I was still searching for the perfect opportunity that would allow me to make movies and to help others.
The next day I received an e-mail about an internship opportunity where four teams of two college students would take a road trip across a region of the United States shooting a documentary and donating socks to organizations that needed them.
As you can imagine, I was automatically intrigued. I had finally found an interesting opportunity to make my final summer worthwhile, but socks? Were they planning on sending us around the country in an SUV full of socks? That's exactly what they were planning, and it was one of the most unique, fulfilling and memorable experiences I've ever had.
Most consumers know the brand No Nonsense for their domination in the hosiery market and for its popular American-made socks. Turns out, No Nonsense had come up with a unique type of project, aptly named Socks for America. My friend Daniel and I had been selected from a large pool of applicants consisting of students from the leading film, communications and journalism schools in the country to travel around the designated "Central Region." Some of our stops along our trek included Denver, Taos, N.M., Dallas and Bentonville, A.R.
As I noted earlier, throughout the length of our road trip Daniel and I were to help donate socks to organizations that help those in need. In each city we visited, we contacted local groups and asked to visit and donate some socks to the organizations.
Along with these visits, each team had four "events." These events were put on by organizations that worked with No Nonsense's partner K.I.D.S. (Kids in Distressed Situations). Normally they consisted of some kind of community gathering, like a block party in a Dallas housing project or a "Back to School Blast" at a church in Arkansas, which were so inspiring, I'll be dedicating separate blogs to these celebrations.
While these events were great for the surrounding community, they also aided us in the documentary we crafted along the journey. You see, one of the major components of the internship was shooting an eight-minute documentary focusing on people who live "No Nonsense" lives everyday.
Daniel and I took that as searching for the people that dedicate their lives to doing good and helping others. Nothing could have prepared us for the plethora of compassionate people that we met. Everywhere we went we met folks who dedicated their lives to volunteering. The amount of love these people put into their lives was devastatingly inspiring.
On our trip we began to notice a popular trend in the people that we were meeting. It turned out that rather often the people that were helping were those that were in need themselves. We met men and women who were living in poverty giving their time and energy to help others experiencing poverty. I met a woman who had successfully moved out of the housing projects and still organizes groups to go back in and lend a helping hand to other needy project residents.
I met a man eating lunch at a soup kitchen right before he headed over to a different homeless shelter to volunteer setting up beds and registering clients. I met men and women who used helping as a bonding activity or as a cleansing reflective activity, but no matter why they said they did it, I've come to realize there's only one reason they did it.
Instead of working a typical summer job that we all have experienced in college, I tried something different -- something that would also allow me to gain some work experience in the filmmaking profession. I watched people at the lowest points in their lives reach out for help, and I was privileged enough to witness those who were brave enough to offer their hand in return.
This summer, I saw how anyone, no matter who they are, can help their communities -- and seeing that power of love first hand was one of the most powerful, positive influences on me. Witnessing just how much one person can really help truly changed my outlook on life and humanity.
I'm only 21 years old and even I know that times are tough right now, but there is someone who can help those who are struggling. It's you and me. No matter how busy we are, we can help, we can even get help and turn right back around and help the person next in line. It's not a magic cure for the wounds of the world, but it's at least a bandage to help aid the healing.
Thanks to some people trying to do some good. I was lucky enough to see just how I can help, to be given an outlet to encourage you to help, and to now have the good fortune of being able to tell others about my experiences through this blog and the many more to come.