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Four Years at the Mount

Junior year

Christmas Charities

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(12/2015) Between the Salvation Army volunteers dressed as Santa Claus outside of stores, to the option to add a dollar to your total for charity inside the store, to the massive increase in soup kitchen volunteers and toy drives, the holiday season seems to bring out an unreal amount of opportunities to both volunteer and donate. So much so that it can actually become overwhelming at times.

It is truly beautiful, but I think the reason it can seem like so much is because of the stark contrast between the time of mid-November to late-December and the other 10 and a half months of the year. It is natural, and we can see it all around us as spirits rise around the holidays. Families are reunited, soldiers come home, employees get holiday leave and bonuses, and childrenís moods generally improve as they await Christmas and a break from school. Naturally, people feel more inclined to give and a heavier weight of obligation during these times. Itís impossible to forget those who may not experience the same holiday joy, and it is clear how important the holidays are to us as a nation by the way we rally in hopes of sharing our holiday joy and privileges with everybody.

I work at a store called Justice. If you donít know, itís a clothing store aimed at pre-teen girls; the new Limited Too. Every year at Christmastime we, along with hundreds of other stores, offer an option at the end of each transaction for the customer to add a dollar, five, or ten, that will go directly to St. Judeís Childrenís hospital. Some decline, but many participate and it is breathtaking to see the weekly and monthly totals of how much can be raised through this very simple question I ask each customer at the end of each transaction. There is no volunteering in this method, thereís no extra work besides an extra three clicks on the screen; it is just the customers purely giving.

What is so fascinating to me about these holiday charities and opportunities is how much more willing people as a whole are to participate during this month and a half. Donít get me wrong, I donít think itís a bad thing. Sure this spirit would be an incredible thing to see year round and so much good could come, if even half of these charities persisted year round, but this is an entirely different kind of atmosphere. What is incredible about the pure joy surrounding the holidays and the willingness to participate is how it radiates throughout entire communities and how, for a month and a half, humanity can be viewed a little more positively.

Thereís so much going on in the world right now that I almost canít ignore it even in this short article. We are just a short time out from the horrific Paris attacks and in the midst of an absolute uproar and debate concerning Syrian Refugees being resettled in America. This may seem like a strange connection to make Ė the state of our world and Christmas charities Ė but I donít know that it is as strange as it may seem.

The joyful giving nature of our holiday season is something truly incredible and a phenomenon that sheds light on humanity each year. I think this spirit and unification of people all around the world, but specifically in our country, is just what we need. Now Iím not proposing that our Christmas joy is the solution to every problem. I am, however, suggesting that maybe the unification of humanity and the giving, selfless, loving, nature of people during this time of year is what needs to be transferred and cross-applied to our everyday dealing with the tragedies in our world. Maybe the Christmas charity we need to add to our list this year is applying the natural rejuvenation of our humanity to our current human situation.

The giving and receiving we experience in this time is beautiful, as is the general atmosphere of joy and love. There has to be room, not only to direct that towards our favorite local charities, but also to feel it and remember it in all of our interactions. We may not be able to do much individually, but there is a lot we can do as a whole. We can add the extra dollar at the end of our transaction on Black Friday, we can drop our change in every donation can we see, we can give our time through volunteering with soup kitchens or shoveling. We can cause change on a large scale if we all keep this joy, gratitude, and giving nature in our everyday exchanges from speaking to our families to discussing and considering matters of the world.

There truly is no better way to spend the season than capitalizing on our abnormally positive atmosphere and selves. Although it is hard to forget when we are surrounded by it all, we should work hard to keep this in mind. Every opportunity to volunteer, every extra dollar, and every charity is another chance to express to everyone around us how important it is to value the season and give back so that all can experience it in the similar ways.

I may have gotten a little off-topic as usual here. My hope is that we all see how the holiday season brings out a beautiful side of humanity that may be somewhat dormant throughout the year. This spirit shouldnít only be enjoyed, but should be spread in ways that may not be as obvious as the ringing bell and Santa Claus at the Wal-Mart entrance.

We have a real opportunity to do more than add the extra dollar; we can implement every component of our rejuvenated state into our everyday dealings and considerations leading every interaction in a new direction. Our Christmas Charities are the result of our Christmas spirit, and itís incredible to see what this spirit can do.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary