As the days march closer and closer to Dec. 25, Hillsdale College seems to grow in holiday cheer. The Student Activities Board has set up Christmas decorations, peppermint ice cream is gaining popularity at AJ’s Cafe, and students are adding holiday tunes to their study playlists.
However, students at Hillsdale are remembering that the holiday season is not just about the food and the music, but about giving back to the community and the world. Students are contributing to a variety of unique opportunities for charity and giving.
One such event is Operation Christmas Child, easily recognizable for its boxes that weres stacked in the Student Union. Operation Christmas Child collects boxes filled with toys and living essentials to give to children in need. One student has been particularly energetic in the quest for gift boxes.
“I played Christmas music and talked to people as they walked by, making sure that they wouldn’t just ignore the table,” sophomore Rowan Macwan said. “I went around the union a few times just approaching people like sitting in AJ’s or by the big TV, telling people about Operation Christmas Child and what a great thing it is to do.
In addition, Psi Chi, the psychology honorary, hosted its annual Giving Tree event. This provided an opportunity for students to sponsor children in the community and give them Christmas gifts. The Giving Tree is affiliated with Domestic Harmony, an organization that offers shelter for victims of domestic abuse. The event was a stunning success this year, securing sponsors for the 24 registered children within one hour of its opening.
“These families are very, very poor, and struggling to provide food and shelter,” junior and Psi Chi Philanthropy Chair Lucille Townley said. “Extras like Christmas gifts are not an option. Giving Tree is a way to provide presents to children who would otherwise not receive them.”
One of the most exciting ways Hillsdale students are giving back is through the GOAL Christmas Party, which is held for children and their families around the community who are connected to Hillsdale’s GOAL program. Senior Kylie Diehl, the coordinator for Buddy Reading, junior Haley Hauprich, who leads the Private School Tutoring initiative, and sophomore Frances Wiese, who coordinates Baggy Books, planned the event, featuring snacks and crafts, as well as a special appearance by Santa Claus himself.
One of the most unique and heartwarming initiatives at Hillsdale is Adopt-a-Grandparent. Headed by junior Rachel Lozowski, Adopt-a-Grandparent is a program in which Hillsdale students visit the elderly residents of Hillsdale Medical Care Facility once a week. To bring some holiday cheer to the residents this December, the student volunteers plan to sing Christmas carols for the elderly residents.
“Throughout the semester, there are group activities such as caroling, watching movies with the residents, and passing out cards to the residents,” Lozowski said. “Christmas caroling is a wonderful way to bring joy to the residents and to show them that many young people truly care for them.”
Every December, one example of the remarkable tenacity and goodwill of Hillsdale students can be heard across campus, as students take shifts ringing a bell and asking for donations to the Salvation Army. Parked in front of the library, these students brave the bitter winter cold in order to bring in charity for a good cause.
“Christmas is all about giving, but as college students, especially Hillsdale College students, it is all too easy to become immersed in our own bubble and forget about the outside world,” said Townley. “Giving to the community we live in, not just close family and friends, helps to open eyes and hearts to those around us and give to those who are really in need.”