Every year classes at the highschool where I teach take on an advent project. We raise money in a variety of ways to assist seniors, newcomers to Canada, street kids and families in need. This year we decided to help one of our own students - a girl with an intellectual disability who has had to live with her mentally ill (schizophrenic) father since her grandmother died two years ago.
Dad has been in and out of work (currently out) and they have had their heat turned off due to non-payment and have had to resort to using the food bank. The young lady has mental health issues of her own and is unable to advocate for herself. After learning that she and her dad had gone to the local food bank for help I decided then and there to make them our Advent Project. My staff agreed wholeheartedly. We would try to raise enough money to get their heat turned back on, provide them with enough food to get them through the two week Christmas break and buy a Christmas gift or two.
Next I decided to put the request for help out to the whole staff of my highschool because several have had my student in their class and might want to make a donation of food or money. The response amazed me.
Even though I am well aware of my school's propensity to give and give and give I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of the response. And humbled. Gifts of food have begun to fill the 3 large boxes that we decorated with Christmas wrapping paper, offers to buy clothing and school uniform pieces, offers of cash in order to get the heat back on and another entire class has offered to make this family THEIR advent project. The most touching moment for me was when one of our custodians brought me a $100.00 cheque saying "every kid deserves to have a Christmas".
My decision this year to make Christmas more about giving to others and about spending time with family and friends rather that the usual "shop til I drop" fiasco has taken on a life of its own.
The joyous feeling that comes from helping others in need truly can't be beat.