It’s Christmas All Year: A Spirit of Giving

We are getting into the Christmas season.  Thanksgiving is finished, and now that it’s actually the proper time to put out those blow-up Santa Clauses, turn on B98.5 for some “Jingle Bell Rock,” or heat up the oven to bake some gingerbread cookies, it’s also the time when we really remember those people who aren’t quite as fortunate as we are.

But if December is supposed to be that one month every year when we go out and help others, Marist must not be following that rule – because we truly keep in mind those who are less fortunate than us during all twelve months of the year.  You see, our philosophy states that we as a community “foster a concern for those who are often forgotten or neglected by society” – and as you’ll notice if you ever visit campus, that goal certainly becomes a reality in so many people around our hallowed grounds.

Example A: In the middle of September, our Student Council moderator received an email from two parents who had a Spirit Week proposal for us: instead of having students spend anywhere from $20-$50 each on corsages and boutonnieres for one Homecoming dance, they suggested that we encourage redirecting those funds to charity.  And needless to say, in our continual effort to advance the mission and the positive atmosphere of our school, we Student Council Officers wholeheartedly supported the proposal – but we had a concern.  No one had ever tried a large-scale fundraiser like this through student government before (or at least since we’d been at Marist) – so would students actually donate?  Either way, we publicized, we sold wristbands to replace the flowers, and although some students still wanted to embrace the old Homecoming tradition as well (as they rightfully could have), we still raised $4,000 – and in hindsight, given this great turnout, we should never have worried at all.

A few weeks ago,  my Co-President (Katie Hearn) and I met with Ms. Kristin Connor, the Executive Director of Cure Childhood Cancer, and presented the check to her.  Just like Katie and me, she was blown away by the students’ generosity – but the giving didn’t just end there.

Christopher with fellow Student Council Co-President Katie Hearn as they present a check to Cure Childhood Cancer Executive Director Kristin Connor

Christopher with fellow Student Council Co-President Katie Hearn as they present a $4,000 check to Cure Childhood Cancer Executive Director Kristin Connor

Because now comes example B.  $4,000 was a lot for a group of students to donate, and I didn’t think we could do much better – but you guessed it: we did.  On the same day that Ms. Connor came to campus, we held another fundraiser, this time for Catholic Relief Services’ use in the Philippines, and students brought in over $6,000 for the charity – because although, yes, we often give throughout the year, our community shows its support of others the most during times of disasters, whether it be for a hurricane in New England or a tornado in the Midwest or a typhoon halfway across the world.

But both of these fundraisers that I just outlined simply represent a larger idea, for they don’t even touch on the many ways in which students usually help others: in the toy drives (one of which we had on Wednesday!), in the canned food drives, or in the community service that constantly brings students to local organizations from the Elaine Clark Center to Habitat for Humanity to Project Open Hand, just to name a few.  So if you ever volunteer somewhere one weekend, chances are that you’ll see a Marist student there, no matter the time of year – because while it may seem unrealistic, Marist just seems to have that Christmas spirit of giving, no matter the season.

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