The season of giving

With winter break approaching, students at our school are more dedicated to volunteering than ever. Charity events happen all year, but cold weather and holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah bring them into the spotlight. The spirit of giving inspires people to contribute their own wealth to help others. There are also more chances to volunteer in the winter, and clubs become more active. There are more season-specific opportunities too- which only happen once a year.

The ones who do the most work for charity at W-L are clubs. They notice the increase in volunteering in the winter because of how many new opportunities they get. “I feel like the only reason [volunteering] goes up is that there are more opportunities,” sophomore Sydney Rood, a member of the Do Something Club, said. The Do Something Club is a major community service organization at W-L. In the coming month, they have events planned that do not occur at any other time of the year, including holiday-centered events. The club will be making holiday cards for hospitalized kids and going caroling for senior citizens this winter.

Their motivation is simple; they want to improve others’ lives. “If you are able to help others who don’t have as much as you you should help- all it takes is 30 minutes of volunteering and you can make someone’s day or help them survive,” senior and Do Something Club president Kathryn Williams said.

Another club that is active this winter is the Veterans Appreciation Club. Embracing the spirit of giving, they volunteer to give back to the men and women who protect our country. “I have seen the many soldiers who don’t get to come home, or who come home struggling with what they dealt with,” said senior and club president Claire Huggins. “So it’s important to me to give back to the community I was raised in and to those who weren’t as fortunate as my family.” This winter they plan to support Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery on December 17, visit soldiers at Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda and work with the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

The biggest resources for charity in the United States are food banks, and students participate in the food drives to fill them- the annual food drive on Thanksgiving being our most recent. Food banks across the United States get more donations than ever during the winter. According to US Census Bureau statistics, over 15 million American children rely on food banks for assistance.

However, anyone who is interested in lending a hand to the less fortunate does not have to join a club to help out. The purpose of volunteering is to create change. “We volunteer so we can make a bigger difference in our community,” Williams said. This doesn’t have to involve joining a club. In the end, some students, especially those in search of service hours for the IB Programme, will find opportunities offered outside of the school to volunteer. Arlington has a searchable database of volunteer opportunities called Volunteer Arlington, which can help them choose what to do.

Despite all the focus on giving during the holidays, Williams reminds students to take charity just as seriously for the rest of the year. Williams said, “It’s just as important, if not more important, to help all year long because that’s when all the seasonal volunteers stop volunteering.”