A helping hand

By Corrina Bergeon

The holidays are approaching. For some, this means participating in joyous family traditions like big thanksgiving dinners and picking out the perfect Christmas tree. For others, the holidays are about much more than that.

“Over the holidays is just a fun time to volunteer because so many other people are volunteering, just because they feel more giving,” senior and Key Club board member Helen Dukes said.

Volunteers are in high demand over the holidays. Even in such a merry time of year, many people in the community struggle to meet basic needs majority being food and warm clothing.

“The First United Methodist Church in conjunction with a whole bunch of other organizations in Midland have been putting together personal hygiene care packages and winter clothing for the winter months,” senior and Key Club president Trish Abalo said. “They’re looking for volunteers for things like putting together care packages and distributing them to project housing.”

There are several organizations in Midland who are looking for volunteers to help with various projects.

“Definitely Salvation Army, there’s always bell ringing and then Key Club and NHS are doing a joint canned food drive for Salvation Army as well,” Abalo said. “Also, the Center for the Arts is having their annual holiday art fair and also sometimes they call it hospitality, and you just greet people or you take tickets or general stuff like that, and the Shelterhouse is having a Christmas party.”

Contrary to some students’ beliefs, it’s possible to volunteer without spending hours standing out in the snow. Simply donating canned foods, new or gently used winter clothing, toys and other gifts can really make a difference for families in need.

“It’s pretty easy to get involved,” senior and NHS vice president Katarina Dasbach said. “Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers and you can also donate canned foods and clothing up through Thanksgiving weekend.”

Students who want to contribute to holiday collections, but missed the Thanksgiving deadline, can also give to Toys for Tots or the Sharing Tree. Families in need submit their Christmas lists to the Sharing Tree organization, which prints the wish lists and hangs them on trees in various locations in Midland, including churches, the Community Center and the mall. The lists can include anything from a Lego set or pajamas to a gas card or diapers. Volunteers are asked to take a tag off a tree and purchase the items listed, and then return the gifts to the tree.

NHS members plan on participating in a similar charity.

“NHS is participating in Adopt-A-Family, which is a program run by
Salvation Army where you collect money and buy gifts for the family and the children so that they get to experience Christmas in that light,” Dasbach said.

Students who are interested in volunteering this holiday season are encouraged to attend Key Club Meetings at 3:30 every Wednesday to learn the details of each job and to sign up for a shift.

“For some reason the holidays just bring out that aspect of people, and it’s just fun to do it even when it’s snowing out,” Dukes said. “You just feel good about yourself because you’re helping people during such a joyous time.”

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