Little things, big difference


Gesu student Arianna (right) poses with Mercy senior Allia McDowell, hiding her smile from the camera after a long day of playing. (Photo credit: Allia McDowell)

Mercy Make a Difference Day. For some Mercy girls, this means another day during Spirit Week when everyone wears the same bright yellow shirt and goes to do service all around the area. For others, this is a day to bond with fellow advisees on long bus rides to and from volunteer locations. But I discovered that it is a chance to make people’s lives a little easier and a little happier by doing any service they need done.

This year, I was volunteering at Gesu Catholic School in Detroit. Upon my arrival, I learned that my group would be leveling the grassy area by the children’s playground so that a lawn mower would be able to get through. We immediately grabbed shovels and began to beat down the bumpy grass. Halfway through our day, a group of kindergarteners came outside to play on the playground. We were then allowed to stop our work on the grass and play with the children. Each of them was fascinated with the idea of meeting these new, big kids. I got to play with a young girl named Arianna. Her smile was so cute and her hair was tied up with blue plastic hair ties. I chased her around for what seemed like forever and helped her go across the monkey bars. She was afraid of the big slide and kept saying it was “too high.”

After some coercion, however, she went down the slide and I caught her at the bottom. The grin on her face was priceless and I could tell she was so proud of herself for facing her fear. It was at that moment, lifting her up from the slide and hearing her laugh, that I realized this was where I was making the biggest difference.

Mercy sophomore Maggie Belevie holds the Gesu student she spent her day with. According to Delevie, she and the young girl played tag and climbed the jungle gym. (Photo credit: Allia McDowell)
Mercy sophomore Maggie Delevie holds the Gesu student she spent her day with. According to Delevie, she and the young girl played tag and climbed the jungle gym. (Photo credit: Allia McDowell)

Sure, when I consider the way the bumpy ground looked before and after we broke it down with shovels, I know I made a difference there too. The difference that really felt meaningful, however, was my encounter with the kindergarteners. It is funny, really, that I felt the most helpful playing with little kids.

But that is how life really is, isn’t it? Sometimes we forget that it is the little things that count. Of course, the big project we did was quite helpful and the lawnmower will now have a much easier time cutting the grass. But the more satisfying difference I made was seeing a little girl face her fears.

I think that there is a lesson here that we all should learn early on. When I walk through the halls of Mercy High School, I see Mercy girls living out this lesson every day. Little things count. You don’t always have to do big things to make a difference in someone else’s day. We can each make a difference in each other’s lives by just being aware that a hug and kind words mean more than you might think. You can never be too nice to someone. Sometimes all it takes to make other people’s day is to tell them they look beautiful (especially when you can tell their alarm didn’t go off that morning and they got ready in under five minutes), or that something they did was really awesome. And sometimes all you need to do is prove to them that that big, scary slide isn’t so treacherous after all.