The Holidays: A Time to Reflect on What We Can Do for Others
Blog posted on behalf of The United Way Young Leaders Society (YLS) member, Jacki Melnyk.
When I think about the holiday season, I am fortunate enough to think about family, friends, good food, wrapped presents, Christmas decorations and movies, Christmas cookies and gift exchanges, all taking place in a warm, cozy house. And with all of that heavy marketing out there for us to buy as many presents as we can, often times we lose sight of what is most important during the holidays. The holidays are a time for giving–and not necessarily a giving of material things, rather a giving of ourselves to those who need it much more than we do.
I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in such a “giving” event at the YLS volunteer project at the Kelly YMCA in Humboldt Park on December 17. Community members were invited to the Y for a holiday celebration. When I arrived, I was amazed at the number of families lining up to get inside. As I entered the “gift room” where volunteers were working to organize donated gifts, my breath was taken away. There were thousands of gifts ready to give to the children whose families couldn’t afford gifts this year.
At that point, there was nothing to do but to step in and start helping to serve the holiday meal! The crowd came hungry and grateful. I will tell you that roast beef sandwiches and HOT chips were the favorites. During the meal, Father Bob of the Y led a Christmas pageant for all the guests.
After the pageant families were called by number to go and choose gifts for their children. Soon kids came down with smiles on their faces comparing their new gifts with their friends. After that, it was time to start cleaning up and breaking down the event. I knew we had done something good when countless people thanked me and kids were smiling and ready to go.
For me, this was the best part of my holiday; feeling fortunate to have so much and happy to be able to give back to my community. I am so happy to be a part of YLS and know that with United Way, there are endless opportunities to give back!
Happy New Year!