Former president Jimmy Carter’s sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was once quoted saying, “Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.”
It certainly is that time of year again! Many companies have begun collecting for the Toys for Tots campaign, and the Salvation Army bell ringing can be heard across the area. It’s easy to get into the spirit when you see people coming together to give back to those who need it.
As college students, it’s easy for us to bypass those buckets, telling ourselves that we can’t afford to donate when we have our own bills to pay. Those seen donating are often adults with steady incomes. They have bills to pay too, but they often receive holiday bonuses and can afford to donate a little extra money to help someone else have a happy holiday. Even with part-time jobs, most students are saving up to pay back loans after graduation.
Yes, this time of year has been deemed “The Season of Giving.” The people who do offer monetary donations around this time are surely helping, but it is essential to realize that this is not the only time of year to be giving.
What about the rest of the year? Surely, no one can say that people only need help around Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa. Many times, people associate their willingness to help at Christmas versus other times of the year to giving the children in need a good holiday. While that is admirable and a wonderful goal to strive for, that is also probably not the children’s biggest priority nor is it the parents’. Giving children a wonderful Christmas to remember is kind, but they may have more needs than what can be covered during the holiday season.
According to the National Alliance of Homelessness, there were more than 14,000 homeless people in Illinois in 2012. Organizations around the community try to help these people year-round. Some of these shelters and organizations include the Salvation Army and Home Sweet Home Ministries. It has even been noted that the homelessness in Bloomington-Normal has increased.
One of the biggest ways to help throughout the year is through donating your time. Monetary donations are always helpful too, but some people simply cannot afford to give money all the time. This Editorial Board understands that and encourages people (even college students) to find a cause to support. Volunteer to help through a number of organizations in the area. An article in the Huffington Post addressed that volunteering can help make people happier and help them live longer. Find a cause you’re passionate about, and you won’t even think about the time you’re spending there. In fact, it could help you take a break from your homework every once in a while. Additionally, volunteering can help you network and meet new people, which would benefit you in the long run when you are applying for jobs.
If you really cannot find the time to volunteer regularly, another option of helping throughout the year can be other donations. You don’t have to limit yourself to money. Instead of selling your old clothes, you can find places across the area to donate them, such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill. You can also donate food to various food banks, like the Midwest Food Bank in Bloomington. There is no shortage of opportunities to help out throughout the year, if you really want to.
You can make any season a little brighter, not just this holiday season. The students of ISU and across the state pulled together to help out tornado victims in Washington, so we can all pull together to help Bloomington-Normal throughout the year.