Jenison High School National Honor Society students know that despite the tinsel and blinking lights, the holidays aren’t jolly for everyone in our community. Because of tough economic conditions and joblessness, many Jenison families are feeling a squeeze that has moved beyond “tight” to “painful.”
To help ease that discomfort and relieve the anxiety that comes from struggling to provide, our NHS students are working to fulfill the Christmas dreams of 288 children in our community.
One of the groups’ advisors, Mrs. Angood, has helped to organize the giving project for years and said recently that 2012 tops past years in terms of applications to receive help.
“This will be our largest year ever. Our community has a lot of needs,” she stated.
Families anticipating a tough Christmas season are invited to apply for consideration based on the family’s income and size. When accepted, each family is assigned a number to maintain confidentiality. High School shoppers then receive a gender, age, and gift request without a name attached. They budget approximately $20-$25 per recipient, using monies collected during coin drives at school.
Tiffany Ray, a senior at JHS, beamed just thinking of her experience with last year’s Christmas Giving Project.
“It’s incredible to see the reactions of family members who came to pick up gifts. Many were crying, saying that they wouldn’t have been able to provide a single gift without our help. It’s very moving.”
Desiréa Kennedy, also a senior, echoed those sentiments, but added that empathy for parents is a huge motivator for her.
“The most fun part for me is doing the shopping — but at the same time, it’s very emotional. While I’m going up and down those aisles I realize that I’m doing something that these kids’ parents would love to be doing themselves, but can’t. It feels like I’m taking their place in a way, so I take it seriously. It’s a privilege.”
Michael Bessey, another senior, summed it up best with a timely reminder:
“Working on this project reminds me that changing your world begins in small ways — and it begins with each of us individually. The gesture doesn’t have to be grand to change someone’s day — or make their Christmas.”
We are so proud of the work that our National Honor Society is doing under the guidance of Mrs. Lynette Angood and Mr. Steve Versluis! Thank you for reminding us that it is, indeed, better to give than to receive.
May you know this joy yourself this holiday season! On behalf of Jenison Public Schools we wish you warm homes, happy hearts, great peace, and safe keeping.
See you again in the New Year!
Our next blog post will be January 3, 2013.