Rachel Cohrs: It turns out that giving is the best gift of all

I started volunteering so I could put it on my resume for college.

Thankfully, that's not the end of my story. I could never have imagined how volunteering would change my perspective and attitude. Volunteering has been a huge gift to me.

I have volunteered in a huge variety of ways. From helping with reading groups to Sunday school classes, I have been blessed with so many opportunities to serve my community. It never ceases to amaze me how many chances to help out appear if you look in the right places.

The volunteering position that has changed me most is at Mayo Clinic. I give weekly hand massages to cancer patients receiving treatment. I meet incredible people from around the world in the most vulnerable stage of human life — when it is faced with death.

I see the full scope of human emotion, from fear to joy to resignation. It has opened my eyes to how insignificant my problems are, and it's encouraged me to show love to those who need it most.


It's the most wonderful gift in the world to be at a place where I realize how much giving to others changes lives. When someone smiles at me and says, "Thank you, you made my day," and I know they mean it, it's a wonderful thing. I think everyone has a need to make a difference in a world. And when I volunteer, I get the chance to make a difference one person at a time.

Volunteering balanced with extracurricular activities, faith, and school has given me an amazing sense of fulfillment. Recognition may come now and then, but that's not the reward. The reward is that feeling.

No matter how horrible of a Thursday it has been, no matter how tired, sad, or stressed I am, I always leave volunteering feeling at peace. Whether people are resting their eyes as they enjoy a relaxing hand massage or they're telling me their life stories, they are always appreciative. At times, I feel guilty because no matter how much I give to them, they always give me more.

Rachel Cohrs is a junior at Mayo High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an email to

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