Giving the Gifts that Count


By Kenzie McKinnon | Writer & Photographer  &   Camryn Ostrander | Writer & Photographer

So, if you haven’t heard, “giving back” is like the “new black,” and as we approach the holidays at a rapid pace, we transition from the “Season of Thanks” to the “Season of Giving.” Many organizations gather at this time of year to give back to the community and to the less fortunate. Charities take part in many events including food drives, gift exchanges, clothes drives, and adopt-a-kid, where you choose a child or a family to buy presents for because the parents cannot afford to purchase gifts for the children themselves.

In fact, our very own Mr. Doug Dill participates in this holiday tradition. Our Freshman football coach gives the option to all of his students to choose a paper angel off of his small Christmas tree in order to buy a gift for that child. As Mr. Dill says, “San Clemente is a pretty fortunate town, so if we could all get together to give to those in need, then it makes the reality of living in an orphanage a little less gloomy because of the people’s donations and generosity.”  The paper angels have the gender of the child and their age to help students choose an appropriate and thoughtful gift–in hopes of spreading the holiday spirit in times of hardship.img_1388

In addition to San Clemente’s gift-giving craze, our school is contributing to the spirit of giving those in need something to enjoy over the holiday season. This week, as we approach winter break, SC is lifting the bar by promoting spirit week as a way to give back. On Friday, we’ll be doing our very own form of donation… we get to wear our coziest PJ’s with a feel-good catch! As long as we bring a pair of pajamas for those in need, we get to enjoy the day in our very own! Honestly, nothing can get better than that, right?

Now, it’s great that SCHS is taking part in the best type of gift giving, but wouldn’t it be even better if you could reach out to your community by individually giving back? We all know the best part about this holiday is not receiving, but giving. So, if you want that warm and fuzzy feeling, but don’t know how exactly to get it… here’s a few ideas that might help!

Dimg_1391uring this holiday season, there are many families who are spending countless hours buying Christmas gifts for their loved ones. By the end of a busy shopping day, their feet are aching from walking in and out of stores, their hands are sore from carrying their shopping bags, and they’re dead-tired from the long day that they have just conquered. This lifestyle is one that many families in San Clemente find familiar, but there are also some families that cannot afford to spend countless hours and countless dollars in buying luxuries for their loved ones.

With the Christmas shopping that every family would love to provide for their family, along with all of the Christmas expenses, some families might struggle with providing a well-cooked meals for their families. This struggle is a common issue in our community that many people have tried to solve in the past; over the years, they have come together to build Family Assistance Ministries (FAM).

FAM is a faith-based charitable non-profit organization assisting families that are in need with resources for food, shelter, and personalized supportive counsel and aid, helping families bridge the gap from dependency to self-sufficiency. Many students and families volunteer at FAM in San Clemente to help unload boxes of blankets, package food, and to make meals for the families. A volunteer that has participated in this program is Darie Achstein-Conway with her daughter Mekenzie, along with her Peer Assistance Leadership class (PAL) from Bernice Ayers Middle School. Mrs. Conway discloses, “The best part of volunteering was being able to come together as a community and help those in nimg_1390eed – all while being able to feel connected on common grounds.”   

Alongside many people, there are many furry little friends in need too. If you’re in the situation to adopt or volunteer your time around animals, local animal shelters would love some help.

Puppies, kittens, bunnies, and even more are definitely looking for forever homes this holiday season, so instead of spending your time wishing on winter wonderland type of a relationship, go adopt! This way, you’ll have a permanent cuddle buddy, companion, and the only friend you’ll ever need.

It’s basically like they save your life, while you’re saving theirs!

In fact, sophomore, Katelyn Ostrander occasionally volunteers her time at local animal shelters because she loves being able to give back to not only her community, but the animals of it as well, sharing, “There’s only so much a single dog or cat can do for themselves, but when we as people can do something to better their lives, why not?”

So, why not? This holiday season, spend some time helping out fluffy little kittens and playful little puppies as a way to give back to your community.

Ultimately, as the holiday season craze tends to consume our everyday routine, let’s not forget about what we could do for our community. Being able to work as one to give to those in tough times will inevitably top any type of gift this year. So, let’s get together to make a difference in the time known best for giving back! Just as Gandhi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

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