Every Christmas here in the Big Apple, I've got this ritual where I help out people who are less fortunate. It's something else, really. There's this joy in giving, handing out hot meals and gifts to those who don't have much.
There's this guy, always first in line, with a beard like Santa but none of the jolliness. When I hand him a bowl, our hands brush for a second, and his eyes – man, they tell a whole story. Gratitude, struggle, a life that's been anything but kind.
Last year, there was this old lady, wrapped in a coat that's seen better days. As I gave her a gift – just a small thing, a pair of gloves – her smile cracked through years of hardship. It's like I've given her more than gloves; I've given her a moment of being seen, of mattering.
And walking back home, looking at those big ol' buildings, I realized this whole volunteering gig is kind of a gift to myself. It's about feeling a part of something, even if it's just for a little while. It's nice, you know, to feel that connection, even if we're all from different worlds.
Being out there with them, it's my lifeline, really. It bridges this gap I feel. If I wasn't doing this, man, I'd be swallowed up by loneliness. When we share those brief moments, when our eyes meet as I pass them a meal, there's this unspoken understanding. So, yeah, volunteering, it's my way of not feeling so alone.

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