Give back this season
The city is covered in snow, the decorations are out and the sales have started. The holidays are officially here. It means time off school, great food and, of course, presents. Many people spend hundreds—and sometimes thousands—of dollars to buy things for loved ones.
For many waking up to Santa’s generous gifts under the tree are an integral part of the holiday season and gifts are a tradition in many homes. But some are not so fortunate. There are people who do not have the luxury of getting expensive gifts, and it’s important to remember that there are people who need your help this time of year.
Every year, the Students’ Association at Mount Royal University helps out students who may be experiencing hard times during the holidays. The Season of Caring program. Started 26 years ago and is an ongoing collaboration between MRU and SAMRU.
“We’re here to support students during a time they are very stressed: emotionally, through work, through school and financially stressed as well,” said Jon Heath-Smith, the Student Outreach and Safewalk coordinator at SAMRU.
Students can give to Season of Caring by donating nonperishable food, hygiene products or baby formula. You can even give pocket change to help out and receive a candy cane in return. Last year, Season of Caring helped over 200 individuals to have a better and less stressful holiday season.
Giving back is important, but—surprise!—it can also make you happier. New research published in the Journal of Happiness and Development shows that social giving will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Helping out those you know or giving back to your community can have great emotional benefits such as feeling connected to those around you.
Along with helping out on campus, there are many volunteer opportunities all over the city. The Mustard Seed is a city-wide charity that is always looking for new volunteers, especially during the holiday season. Signing up is easy: just go to their website, fill out a quick form and you can get involved either individually or as a group (so get your friends to sign up too!).
The Mustard Seed has more volunteer opportunities around the city during this time of year and help is alwasy needed. One can volunteer at a shelter by helping serve breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Mustard Seed also has a Christmas backpack project, where backpacks are stuffed with essentials like toiletries, blankets and gloves and then given to those in need. Volunteers are also needed at their Foothills Resource Sorting Centre to sift through donations and allocate them to backpacks.
“It really puts your mindset in a place where you really start to appreciate what you have instead of always wanting more than you currently do have. I think the perspective is a really big thing, whether or not you’re serving once a year or you come on a weekly basis, it’s all about realizing we are very privileged people in this world and that there is a lot of people who need help,” said Colin Scubachi, one of the volunteer coordinators at the Mustard Seed.
Getting a visit from Santa is fun, and the holidays are a great time to see your family and eat lots of tasty food, but remember that not everyone is as lucky during this time. For some, with the stress of school and family, this can be the hardest time of the year. Money can be the biggest stressor around December, especially with student loans running out and the extra cost of having to buy presents.
After finals, students have a few weeks of free time, no exams, and no assignments, so why not take that time to help out those who may have less than you? Volunteer as an individual—or bring the whole family and make it a new tradition.