By Kassidy Weemhoff | Life & Times Co-Editor
Thanksgiving break, big meals, Christmas celebrations, time off of school and so much more encompass these next few weeks of the semester.
While it is noticeably easy to get swept up in the holiday festivities and the urge to relax or sleep away your time, it is necessary to give back what we have been so richly blessed with.
"I think it is a topic of empathy and generosity which are traits I hope all believers have," sophomore Kassidy Hall said. "But I think it also has to be a personal conviction."
Hall regularly gives her time and treasures to ministries like Youth With a Mission (YWAM) throughout the year, but encourages those who don't make giving a habit to take advantage of this season of generosity.
President of the Samaritan's Purse chapter at Taylor, sophomore Stephen Dagher, hosted the Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party on Tuesday, Nov. 13 as one way students could give back to kids all over the world.
"I started this event so that Taylor University students would have the opportunity to take part in the ministry of Samaritan's Purse and provide yet another way to share Christ's redemptive love to a world in need," Dagher said. "Operation Christmas Child is the largest Christmas project of its kind, and as Christians, regardless of our denomination or beliefs, it is a time of the year where we can come together with the purpose of sharing God's love on a global scale."
Dagher's shoebox packing party represents an opportunity to share time, talents and treasures with those who do not have the abundance we do. This is one way, but there are many more avenues for college students to give back. We have put together a small listing of possibilities and encourage you to explore ways to look and feel outside of yourself this holiday season.
- Ask for one of your presents to be a donation to a non-profit or a fair trade gift that gives back. Organizations like World Vision and UNICEF provide catalogs of gifts to provide aid to those in need across the world. All you have to do is pick a gift out of the catalog, for example a goat for a family, and you get a certificate that tells you the impact your gift has made. If you want to go another route, International Justice Mission and Women at Risk sell specialty items made by artisans across the world. You know when purchasing any of these items that the profit goes back to the artisan who made it. You can give back this Christmas by asking for or purchasing gifts that make a difference in the lives of people across the world.
- Go to a grocery store and fill a paper bag with a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Most grocery stores like Meijer and Fresh Thyme offer this way to give back. All you need to do is go to the store, grab a bag with a list of items, and go throughout the store picking out each of the elements. By the end you've got a full bag of groceries and a meal for a family who couldn't otherwise afford it. The experience of grocery shopping with others in mind is a great way for students to think of others this holiday season.
- Give the gift of time by visiting those who don't get many holiday guests i.e. Ronald McDonald House, Assisted Living Facility or even a neighbor who lives alone. As college students, we don't have much money to give this season. One thing we do have, however, is time. Holidays are hard for many who live alone or are feeling alone in this phase of life. By taking time to visit families of sick children, an elderly person who would otherwise have no visitors or even someone you know is feeling completely alone this holiday, you can make a lasting impact.
Be creative with your time, talents and treasures this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. As cliche as it sounds, giving back is what we are called to do as Christians. What better time than the season of joy and cheer to bring the light of Christ into your traditions.