Give a little more

(Photo Credit: Allia McDowell)

With Christmas quickly approaching, it is important to focus on the true essence of what this holiday is all about: giving. Our world has quickly become encapsulated by wealth and spending, so much so that we have forgotten that giving does not always require spending money. In the coming weeks, remember that even the smallest things can make a huge difference in the lives of others. Here are 10 easy ways to bring a little more Christmas spirit into the lives of the people in your community.

  1. Go caroling with a group of friends – Everyone loves Christmas music, and no one can resist singing along to their favorite holiday tunes. So, why not get together a group of friends, print off some lyrics, and go door to door belting out some Christmas cheer? It is amazing how much singing Christmas carols can brighten someone’s day, especially those in senior centers and hospitals.
    “A lot of people were very overjoyed with our holiday spirit. It was fun to get out and do something different with my friends.” – Jillian Yassay, sophomore
  2. Scrape the snow from someone’s window – As Christmas spirits rise, temperatures plummet. Already, this Michigan weather has proven that we will be getting plenty of snow this winter. Nothing is worse than running out to a cold car and scraping the ice and snow from your windshield. Help someone out by scraping his/hers after you do your own. It could be a Christmas miracle for that person.
    “During one of the coldest weeks last winter, I scraped the snow from my friend’s window after we went Christmas shopping.” Sammy Kleedtke, sophomore
  3. Carry excess shopping bags – Almost everybody goes shopping to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Stores are packed to capacity with busy shoppers bustling through the aisles and racks. Shoppers often have more bags than they can handle themselves. Help someone out by volunteering your time to carry bags for them. Even if you are personally leaving the store empty-handed, make yourself useful and carry someone else’s merchandise.
    “Last year, when I was black Friday Shopping, I carried bags for an elderly woman out to her car, because the parking lot was icy and dangerous.” -Sarah Kurpiers, sophomore
  4. Ring the Salvation Army Bell – Stores nationwide have red collection buckets for the Salvation Army. Sign up to stand and ring the bell for the Salvation Army in the front of a store. It would be nice to see all the people who give what they can, and you can see that your donation of time pays off as the bucket fills up. All it takes is one hour, and you may even want to stay longer than that after seeing the joy in a child’s face as they drop whatever their parents give them into the red bucket.
    “I rang the Salvation Army bell in front of Kroger last winter. It was very fun to see the people come and donate what they [could] and witness the generosity people have.” – Anne O’Connell, senior
  5. Babysit – Parents’ schedules get even busier during the holidays. Sometimes, it is hard for them to get a break from the kids so they can go Christmas shopping. Offer to take care of their kids while parents rush off to the mall to find the gift that will make their kids’ dreams come true. It is amazing how much a few hours away from the kids can help parents get stuff done.
    “I babysat last Christmas– and will again this year for four young boys– while their parents went out shopping after work to get them Christmas presents. Not only did I have fun spending time with the kids, but I also loved knowing how excited they would be to open their presents Christmas morning.” – Alia Fuqua, junior
  6. Volunteer to set up decorations – Whether it is at a senior center, a church, or the house down the street, people can always use a little help stringing lights and putting up the tree. Give your time to others and help to get homes ready for Christmas. Many senior centers find it difficult to put up Christmas decorations because they do not have time. Change that by donating yourself for a few hours by helping hang up ornaments or garland.
    “Last year, my friends and I volunteered at Focus Hope. We made Christmas party decorations with a group of little kids, then set them up so the kids could have a party. It was really fun to see their faces light up as they got to help hang up the decoration they made.” -Maggie Delevie, freshman
  7. Adopt a Christmas family – During the holiday season, churches, community centers and schools (including Mercy) have drives for families who are not as fortunate. Help to make the Christmas of one family a little more joyful by providing them with whatever they may need.
    “My family adopts a Christmas family through my church every year. I really enjoy shopping for their necessities because I know I will be making their Christmas more joyful.” – Chandler Pinchek, junior
  8. Be a courteous shopper – Only have a few items at the checkout, let someone go in front of you in line, especially as stores get busier as the Holiday approaches. Avoid being the obnoxious person in the store who only notices their own needs. Instead, look out for others. Reach to the higher shelves if you are tall, bend to the lower shelves for those who may not be able to, and be helpful to the other shoppers, rather than harmful.
    “During the holiday season I am always conscious of my behavior while shopping, if there are only a few spots near the entrance of the mall or store I’m going to, I will park further away, leaving it for someone who may be unable to walk long distances. Also, if I’m in line at a store and notice someone behind me with only one or two items I will let them go ahead of me.”
    -Jennifer O’Brien, senior
  9. Wrap presents – Volunteer to wrap presents for others. Just because they had time to go out and buy it does not necessarily mean they will have time to wrap it. Take the time to help out and wrap gifts for others. It is simple, easy, and not time consuming, but could be a huge help for someone this busy holiday season.
    “I always volunteer to my parents and friends to wrap Christmas presents for them. It is a simple and easy way to help others, and it makes the holidays brighter.” -Julia Kleismit, Freshman
  10. Write letters – From soldiers over-seas, to elderly people in senior centers, to young children hoping to hear back from Santa, there a bunch of people looking for love this season. Take time to write a letter to a soldier who may not get to come home for Christmas; make a card and send it to an elderly person who may not have any family to be with; volunteer to write a response to a child’s ‘Dear Santa’ letter. There are so many people looking to hear from anyone as the holiday grows nearer. Make someone’s day, month, or maybe even year, with just a few words wishing them a merry Christmas and happy New Year.
    “I wrote letters with my youth group, and then we delivered them to elderly people at a nursing home. Seeing their faces when they got the cards was indescribable and made me realize how even doing the simplest things, like writing a card, can make someone’s day all the more better.”
    -Jillian Dewitt, junior

Focus on giving because that is what Christmas is all about. Spread joy and make the lives of those around you a little bit better this season. The smallest, simplest things can have a huge impact on people’s lives; it is important to remember that every Christmas.