Usuki Singing Stars #28: Scary Volunteers
"I’m freezing!” Scary fumed, shivering as Patricia approached her. The purple Bruce sighed as she hugged herself and buried her face in her scarf. “Why in Neopia do we have to come here today?? Can’t we just say we did our volunteer scheme?”
Patricia shook her head. “You know we wouldn’t get away with it, Scary,” informed the faerie Shoyru. “We would need a letter from the shopkeeper himself to prove we’ve done our assignment.”
“Well this is definitely the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Scary declared, following Patricia into the Second-Hand Shoppe. She was still baffled at the assignment their English teacher insisted they do during their winter break: spend a few days doing community service at any location or business within Neopia Central. The volunteer work would have mattered much more if it was done at the Grooming Parlour, where Scary could try out the latest cosmetics and skin moisturizers. Instead Patricia, her assigned partner, decided to sign them up for shifts at the Second-Hand Shoppe–a thrift shop built in the shape of a cardboard box.
Even stepping outside of it was too humiliating, yet Scary soon found herself glaring at the few patrons as she approached the front desk. All of the store’s shelves were stocked with orange veil hats and the racks were stuffed with potato sacks. Most alarming of all was the steep tower of dung displayed in the middle of the shop. No wonder this place sees little business, Scary assumed. All of this junk is…junk!
A blue Kau approached the girls and smiled widely. “Well aren’t you just the cutest little volunteers around!” she crowned happily, bobbing the flower stalks on her velveteen hat. “It’s so nice to see how compassionate our younger Neopians can be around this time of year.”
Patricia looked around. “Are we the only volunteers here?” she wondered.
“I’m afraid so,” sighed the Kau. “Not many Neopians are interested in helping here, I’m afraid. And you can tell from our stock that the less fortunate aren’t given any regards, either.”
“So all this junk is really for sale?” asked Scary.
The Kau laughed. “Nothing here is for sale, dear. It would be extremely rude of us to charge our patrons…”
Scary yawned loudly. “No wonder this place is tanking,” she commented. “If you’re just going to give away free pieces of garbage, then of course this waste of space would face a foreclosure in the future. My bet is next month.”
“So…what should we do first?” asked Patricia.
“One of you can unpack our newest box of donations while the other assists me with hanging some clothes on racks,” the Kau instructed.
“I can help hang clothes,” Patricia offered. “Scary, would you mind…”
Scary rolled her eyes. “Oh how fun!” she interrupted. “First I had to enter this garbage dump and now I have to shift through its heaps of trash for some junk to give. Yes, this sounds much more fun than helping Granny Greedypants with her annual toy drive of doom!!”
“Splendid!” cheered the Kau, clapping her hooves. “The box at the back of the store, underneath the rack of coats. If you need any help, just holler.” She led Patricia to a nearby clothes rack while Scary made her way to the box of donations
“Stupid Kau and her pushy ways and ugly jacket,” Scary mumbled as she rummaged through the donations. Aside from a blue sailor dress and a beige pair of pants, nothing else in the box seemed fit for the shop. In fact, the tattered jackets, potato sacks and piles of dung that remained were most likely donated from Neopians who wanted to clear outtheir closets rather then aid the unfortunate. “At least I’m never going to need any of this ugly crud,” Scary said confidently, folding up the cardboard box and tossing it aside.
When their shift was over and they left the Second-Hand Shoppe, Scary ranted openly about the donated merchandise she had to sort through and how hideous the potato sacks would look when paired with an orange veil hat. “Poorer Neopians must be desperate if they want to take anything from that Second Scam Shoppe,” Scary concluded.
Patricia shrugged. “Not everyone in Neopia Central is lucky enough to afford nice clothing,” she pointed out. “I think we should take our community service as a blessing that we’re more fortunate than others.”
“You’re just saying that because Christmas is five days away,” Scary sneered. “And believe me, I do feel very blessed that I’m not a ragged clothed Neopian! Surely those poor folk must have to suck up their feelings and accept whatever they receive.”
“I suppose they would,” sighed Patricia, “but it still doesn’t mean its fair.”***
Sparkles gasped. “Oh Scare, that’s terrible!” The pink Bruce sat on Scary’s bed as her sister rummaged through her closet. “I actually had a very pleasant experience at the Soup Kitchen today. There was this adorable baby Poogle…”
“Where is it?? It has to be in here!” Scary angrily slammed her closet door shut. “Why is it SO hard for me to find one measly sweater in this stupid closet??”
“Perhaps it’s because you have too much stuff jammed in there,” Sparkles suggested.
“No I don’t,” Scary insisted.
“Yes you do,” said Sparkles, nodding. “Your shelf is crammed with too many dresses and your floor was buried underneath your piles of shoes.” She gasped suddenly and bounced excitedly. “Oh Scary, this is it! The perfect reason for you to clean out your closet and donate your clothes to the Second-Hand Shoppe! It would be a Season of Giving miracle of you can brighten the faces of the less fortunate!!”
“Are you insane?!?!?” Scary asked in disbelief. “Why in Neopia would I place my expensive NC articles of clothing to a shop shaped like a cardboard box? And besides, they still have plenty of junk for the poor.”
Sparkles got up and smiled. “Well I think it’s a great idea! I’ll go to my closet and see if I have anything worth donating.”
After Sparkles had left, Scary reopened her closet and pulled off some clothing from her shelf. She looked at the dresses and blouses she was holding. When was the last time she had worn her white sundress? Why did she keep her red and white striped sweater? And why were a pair of ugly grey shoes still visible on the ground? Some of my stuff is pretty ugly, Scary thought, placing her least favourite items on the ground. She gazed at her closet again and wondered, I suppose I can part with a few things…mainly the stuff I don’t care for anymore.
By the end of the day, Scary had accumulated a hefty pile of items deemed ‘unfashionable’ and ‘so last year’. She decided to stuff them into a trash bag and ‘donate’ them tomorrow. Unless those unfashionable dweebs can wait a few extra days, Scary thought as an idea began to form in her mind.***
As they entered the Second-Hand Shoppe, Patricia and Sparkles were awestruck by what they saw: shelves and clothing racks lined with brightly coloured clothing! Patrons were rushing about the store, admiring the new merchandise and carrying armloads of clothes to the dressing rooms. “It’s a Christmas Eve miracle!” Sparkles exclaimed. She walked over to Scary and asked, “How in Neopia were you able to stock the entire shop in three days??”
Scary pointed to the blue Kau with the velveteen hat. “She was the one who gathered all of these donations.”
“But you were the one who had the idea,” said Patricia.
“Eh, who cares,” Scary insisted.
“Well I’m glad you finally learned the true meaning of the season,” Sparkles said with a smile. She looked around the shop. “Just look at all the smiling faces!”
At least I’m finally done my stupid community service, Scary thought contently. And I made Neopia’s poorest more fashionable than ever with my donated clothes...and those that crazy Kau lady found.
“Merry Christmas!” Sparkles sang out to the patrons.
“Happy holidays!” Patricia added.
And may you all never approach me for any type of charitable donation ever again, Scary thought bitterly. Or else…