Volunteer Service, a Special Time

Hong Sun-tae from Gangneung, Korea


One Sunday in December, around two hundred student members, young adult members, male and female adult members from the Donghae, Samcheok, and Gangneung Zions gathered together in a hilly village by Mukho Port in Donghae, Gangwon Province, Korea. We gathered to deliver two thousand coal briquettes to four senior citizens who were living alone—five hundred coal briquettes to each one of them.

This village has narrow and steep stairs, which even young people find it difficult to go up and down. How much harder it must be for senior citizens! When the weather gets cold, it becomes more difficult for them to get through winter because the coal briquette provision, essential for spending winter, is not smooth.

No company wants to deliver coal briquettes to this village even though they offer double price; it is difficult and even dangerous to deliver them, going up and down the steep stairs. When the officials in the town hall told us that even soldiers and volunteer groups hesitated to help this village, we made our resolution firmer before we started our service.

From the road to the steep hill and stairs, around two hundred members lined up forearm-distance apart. The male adults stood on the steep stairs, and the female adults and the students stood on the gentle slope. All the volunteers passed coal briquettes to the next person carefully as if they were precious treasures. The volunteers over two hundred were not enough to make a line that reaches the senior citizens’ houses; so we piled up the coal briquettes in the middle of the course, lined up again, and delivered them again from there.

As we kept repeating the same movement, our arms and legs began to hurt. Sweat ran down our faces despite the cold weather. However, no one lost smile the whole time.

The villagers came outside and cheered for us. On the bottom of the hill, many tourists stopped on the side of the road and watched us in admiration, taking pictures or videos. Even in my eyes, the members working with sweat and black coal briquette powder on their faces looked much more beautiful than the blue sea by the Mukho Port.

After about three hours, we delivered all the coal briquettes that we had brought. When the senior citizens saw the piles of coal briquettes, they burst into tears, and one of them said,

“I had only twenty coal briquettes left at home. I was going to die if I ran out of them. I was relieved to see you deliver them for me. Now I want to live again. Thank you so much.”

Thinking how worried he must’ve been whenever a coal briquette was used up, I had a lump in my throat. I also felt the power of volunteer service; the few hours that I could’ve wasted doing something else provided hope and will to live to somebody. I have lost a few chances to participate in volunteer services because I could not afford time, but from now on I will participate in more services.

Sometimes, I spent time for something valueless and meaningless. Compared with those times when nothing was left in the end, I ended the year on a good note by doing a meaningful volunteer service. I will also fill the New Year with the things that can please God and bring hope to the people of the world.