The steel grated doors are lifted, and the fifty sad faces already sitting in the plastic chairs look up at me for answers. But I don’t have any; I never do. I don’t know where their next meal or paycheck is going to come from. I don’t even know if they’re going to make it through the week. I just wish that, once, I’d see that door lifted and not have to see the same faces I see every Thursday. Then I’d know something better had happened in their lives.

But every week, I’m going to see many familiar faces at the Delonis Center — a soup kitchen on the west side of Ann Arbor. As students at the University, we have the moral obligation to help those in need, whomever they may be, because we have the time to do so and because of the self-fulfillment received in lending a helping hand to someone who needs it.

Opportunity. At the University, every one of us has the ability to further our education. We can utilize the various resources the University has to offer. We can increase the possibility of our success in the future. Not only do we have the distinguished opportunity to obtain a college degree, but we’re able to receive that education and “college experience” from the highly acclaimed University of Michigan. Most people do not have the opportunity to attend college for a variety of reasons: inadequate financial resources, poor standardized test scores, lack of family support, poor guidance, etc. But we do.

Since we are given the not-so-common opportunity to do something great with our lives, it’s our responsibility to help those who might not be able to help themselves. I know some of you might say, “It’s not my problem.” But when that mentality rears its ugly head, no progress can be made. That thought process should be non-existent when another person needs help.

Time. Before my mom and dad got married, they met with the priest who was performing the ceremony. He told them, “There are 168 hours in a week, and God is only asking you to commit one of those hours to Mass.” Well, I’m not God, but I’m asking you to commit just one hour a week too: through a community service organization on campus, the Ronald McDonald House near the Medical Center, raising money for breast cancer research — something tangible that takes effort on your part. If you already perform an hour of service every week, maybe you can give another hour.

Perhaps you think you don’t have time. But if you counted up the number of hours a week you spend Facebooking, watching random television shows, playing Nintendo 64 or Xbox and screwing around with your housemates — you’re bound to find at least one you could devote to a person or an organization instead. 168 hours a week — someone is only asking for one.

Self-fulfillment. That’s what one hour a week will give you. After serving eighty or so people every Thursday, I might not get a thank you from all of them. But receiving a thank you should not be your motivation for helping others — there has to be a deeper purpose for giving your time. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said it best: “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Opportunity. Time. Self-fulfillment. It’s our duty to go out of our way to do something that will better the community, whatever that may be. It doesn’t even have to be something big — just something meaningful. Our opportunity lies before us to lend a helping hand. The time commitment isn’t too great. The self-fulfillment received will make your week. 168 hours — you just need to give one.

Mark Burns is the Daily’s summer Managing Sports Editor.

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