Season of Giving, Season of Hope

Men and women standing outside of stores ringing bells, children’s names hanging on Christmas trees, piles of canned goods stacked at the local food bank – all symbols of goodwill that seems to pour out during the holiday season.

With lights, trees, gifts, food, and family, the holiday season is considered the greatest time of the year. But unfortunately, some cannot have a joyful holiday without a helping hand. Countless children lack warm beds to sleep in, and some don’t even have houses to live in. Many are without an education, clean clothes to wear, or shoes for their feet. Some have no parents, much less toys, at Christmas time. The least that the more fortunate can do is brighten the lives of the underprivileged with a loving dash of holiday charity.

Several organizations including Key Club, FFA, Hammond Oliver, and Student Council have done their part to reach out to those in need. Every year, Key Club hosts “A Day With Santa” to help children from low-income families have a merry Christmas.

“On ‘A Day With Santa’, we have a large number of young kids at Carver Early Childhood Center who typically cannot afford to go to the mall and pay the price to have their picture taken with Santa,” Key Club sponsor Ted Vaughn said. “We go there and have a picture made with every student at Carver Elementary with Santa. Key Club pays to have it developed, so they all get a picture with Santa for free.”

Since cash donations can be more helpful to some, FFA helped the less fortunate by raising money for “Make a Smile Happen”.

“We collected money to give to the Radio M.A.S.H.,” FFA sponsor Scott Pesl said. “Then they can buy gifts for Toys for Tots so that folks that are underprivileged can have presents for Christmas.”

Student Council reached out by supplying ‘Salvation Army Angel Tree’ children with needed items in time for Christmas.

“We went one weekend and picked two students, Allen who is five and Carmen who is eight,” StuCo sponsor Cynthia Owens said. “We’re asking students in Student Council to bring two dollars which should give us about a hundred dollars, and what we’re going to do is have a shopping party for everyone who wants to go shopping for them. We really want to meet their needs and give a little bit back to the community.”

Owens pointed out how giving to others makes the giver thankful for things that they didn’t consider special before.

“I think giving is important because it helps you to realize what you have, and even when you feel like you don’t have a lot, you realize that there are others out there that are so much needier,” Owens said. “It also helps students see that even just a little bit – two dollars – will make a difference when we put it all together and work together to meet the needs of our community.”

Students at Hammond Oliver served others in numerous ways, some not even local.

“We call the day before we get out for Thanksgiving holidays our ‘Make a Difference Day’,” Hammond Oliver principal Judy Hughson said. “Some of our students went to Twin City Mission to help clean and decorated doors for children at Carver Early Childhood. We had some students who wrote letters to soldiers and sent cards and gifts, chose a name off of an Angel Tree and bought and wrapped gifts for those people, and went out into the community to decorate trees at Sherwood and Health For All. We just feel like it’s important that we give back to the community because they’re very willing to let us come into their places of work, so we want to say ‘thank you’.”

Around school, students enjoy giving for many personal as well as moral reasons.

“I like to give because it gives me the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone,” junior Adriana Donate said. “We, as human beings, should help each other.”
Junior Diana Flores agrees and emphasizes the effects that giving to others has on a person.

“Giving is important because it shows good character and makes one a better person on the inside and out,” Flores said. “I like giving to others less fortunate than me because it makes me feel good on the inside, and I like making people happy.”

However, giving isn’t limited to helping only humans. There are many different ways to give to the community around you.

“I volunteer at the animal shelter by loving and caring for homeless animals,” junior Adrian Sanchez said. “Giving is also important because it makes the connection between people stronger.”

According to students, giving not only benefits the receiver but the giver as well.

“I like to give because it helps people and betters the world,” junior Beth Akin said. “If everyone gave a little bit, the world would be a better place.”

By giving even the smallest gift – whether it be one dollar, one hundred dollars, or even a simple act of kindness – giving in any form is a package deal. By helping others, joy comes to the giver. Even the simplest act of kindness can give a person hope.

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