During my Christmas break from University of Georgia, I decided to take time to give back in my community. I heard about the Toy Shops at MUST Ministries and decided to help in Marietta.

Being an introvert, I was a little bit nervous about what I was going to do and how much I'd be interacting with families I didn't know. But the moment I arrived at the shop, any worries were silenced as I was greeted and welcomed by multiple MUST Ministries employees and volunteers. The environment MUST created was one of inclusion and helpfulness and this feeling was shared by the volunteers as well as the families coming to the shop.

My first day I worked as a "shopper", walking around with families and helping them pick out what they needed for Christmas. My Spanish classes came in handy as I escorted several families who appreciated hearing options in their native language. We worked together to find toys that we thought would put a smile on their kids' faces.

One father had 3 teenage boys and I'll never forget hearing about his kids' interests and helping him fill a shopping cart full of sports gear and footballs. A mom told me how much her young daughter loved Frozen, so we selected Frozen dolls and accessories.

Something else I enjoyed were the reactions when the parents found out they could take home a bike as well. I remember being a kid and asking for a bike, so knowing that these families were going to be able to give their children something as exciting and nice as a bike meant a lot to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed my volunteer experience and know it was very rewarding for everyone that participated and helped provide a way to brighten Christmas for those in need.

Volunteering at the MUST Toy Shop made this Christmas break one I'll never forget, and I plan to help again in the future.

-Will McCown