Guest Contributors

What does the holiday season mean to you?

This post was written by one of our volunteers, Makeda Yohannes, who wanted to share her thoughts about the holidays and giving back to children in need. Do you have a story to share? Tell us about what the holiday season means to you in the comments below or email us at [email protected]. Happy Holidays!


Makeda Yohannes
Makeda Yohannes

As the holidays get closer, the chaos can seem maddening. With so many errands to run and gifts to purchase, it is unfortunate that people do not have a moment to stop and reflect on the year they have had, the company they will keep this season, and the blessings that are bestowed to us all. When you do take a moment to stop, something beautiful happens. From within your spirit, you feel a strong desire to not only stay in this mode of tranquility, but spread it as far as you can, to those around you in your nuclear circle, and to the less fortunate, who, for a variety of reasons, will not be able to so readily share the ease and wonder that the Holidays inspire.

Every year during the holiday season, my classmates and I would participate in our school’s “Secret Santa” program, piloted by a local shelter. There, young children make a Christmas wish list and send it over to our school. Once received, we would try our best to buy all of the items on the list, delivering it to them under the Christmas tree, ready for the morning’s excitement!

It is in this spirit that I would like to call attention to the extraordinary schools and young adults who have made it their mission to ensure that those in their community are able to experience the magic of the holidays. Young people, still with a youthful exuberance about the holidays, ensure that this holiday season can be a little brighter for more people. Some of my favorite ways to get involved are collecting toys for a local shelter, fundraising money and partnering with an organization to purchase and deliver toys (my personal favorite, since you become Santa!). Others might enjoy volunteering at soup kitchens during holiday dinners and listening to the stories of those who come in. Every step pushes you and your family closer to the realization that the holiday season is not singular to your wishes, but rather communal excitement and joy, shared among us all. How much more fun is it to receive a gift when you know that you had a hand in getting one for someone else, making their holiday that much more wondrous?

This holiday season, please remember all those who are less fortunate, and do everything within your power to give them the best holiday by giving back and volunteering with your school and family. What better way to inspire the next generation to become adults who are committed to service and responsibility, when they see that you yourself are committed to those around you? With just a bit of time and foresight, we can help so many children who need our love and care, both in our local community and globally.

About Makeda

Makeda Yohannes is a first year student at Columbia University in New York City, majoring in Economics and Political Science. Originally from the Washington DC area, Makeda has been involved in a myriad of causes and organizations, cementing her interest in public policy and nonprofit advocacy. Through experiences on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scout Council, an internship in the Office of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and volunteering and speaking at events for the Women’s Campaign Fund and Running Start, she has been fortunate to meet extraordinary people who have furthered her desire to travel and work on humanitarian issues throughout the world.

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