I never would have thought that a little town in East Tennessee called Sneedville would make such a big difference in my life. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Sneedville with my peers from Saint Matthew School.
We delivered Thanksgiving supplies to the less fortunate citizens. I was truly moved by the stories people told me. All of the people were so caring in the little town. I would have never imagined the amount of thankfulness they showed when we delivered the meals.
Even though the people were financially poor, they were not poor in spirit or in joy. When my peers and I were on the way to help the first family, we drove through beautiful, untouched mountains that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Moments later, we arrived at this rundown house that had farm animals and plenty of old items that have been collected over the years and kept around the yard. We met the owner of the house. I never would have thought that she would have been so kind and so sweet.
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When we delivered the food, her expression was priceless. She teared up and began to express her gratitude for us.
Later, she told us that she had never felt at home while in a church, so the mountains were her church. She would talk to God from her porch, and she said that she could hear God talking back to her. She didn’t care if anyone called her crazy.
When she said this, I looked around and realized that even though she was poor, she felt great joy. I also became more aware of the world around me, and I realized the true beauty of every little thing on this earth.
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The beauty in giving back and helping others
After a few more stops, we went to a house in the rolling hills on the other side of town. The house was on the side of a lush green hill where the towering trees of the forest stopped growing.
In this little house, there was a grandmother who had to raise the young children that ran through the hills decorating their mother's grave. As we began to talk to her we discovered how much she cared for these kids, and we discovered her strong desire to make the kids happy.
She even said, “I would take my heart out of my chest for those kids if they needed it.” This really inspired me to continue to help others the same way she helped her grandchildren. I realized that it's not just about helping people, but building a relationship with them.
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Most importantly, I feel like the main thing I learned from this experience was that you don’t need a ton of money to have joy and to help others.
We got to meet so many people who were great examples of that.
They proved that sometimes you don’t need any money at all to help someone in the best way. All you need is a voice to respond with and ears to listen.
Cooper Kelsey is an eighth grader at Saint Matthew School in Franklin and a member of the school’s campus ministry program. Cooper visited families in Sneedville during the holiday, along with classmates and faculty members.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: This trip to Sneedville made a difference for me and my peers