The holiday season brings forth a time to visit family, sleep in, and take a break from a hectic school schedule, but an equally important aspect also follows—giving to those in need through community service. As Loyola Cubs enjoy their winter hiatus, they must remember to be “men for others” through community service projects.
Service sites fill to the brink with volunteers unlike any other time of the year as winter settles and holidays begin to roll through one after another. Mrs. Angela Moran, community service program coordinator, shares her experience with holiday service. “The holiday season sparks service in people because we talk about giving back to the community and sharing love, peace, and joy,” said Moran, “If you were to call some of the skid row facilities or soup kitchens, they’d be packed during the holidays with volunteers, but after the holidays they are wide open and don’t have enough volunteers.”
Such a surge in assistance contains the direct benefit of offering a workforce to tackle the largest issues in Los Angeles such as hunger, poverty, and a lack of housing. Sophomore Fintan Hiney said, “Service is helpful to the less fortunate despite people’s intentions, but, most of the time, I think people end up doing service out of the goodness of their hearts. ” As the season wanes, though, volunteers abandon their post with a clearer conscience; a need of service then arises once again.
Many attribute this significant yet fleeting rise in volunteering to a self-centered, superficial sense of service. While Loyola cannot force its students to serve by their own desire, the school can require that students try community service. This initial push toward a life of charity sets Cubs on a track of lifelong volunteering.
“We hope that some of our students will capture that experience of service and really take it to heart,” said Moran, “Maybe a student makes a connection with the site they are working at, so, hopefully, in addition to just a spark of the moment, the service really ignites the student to continue. Holiday service is a start to the new coming year.”
Several large Loyola projects began with an ignition of interest during the holiday season. “One of the very popular projects that started around December is the Baja Christian Ministries Build. The first time Loyola participated in that was back in 2011, and it was packed with volunteers during the Advent season. From that trip on, they do them twice a year; it’s a most popular trip where students often return to build houses for those less fortunate,” said Moran.
Christmas break also provides a time to commit for long periods to one site, without the burdens of school work. “I’ll be helping at a food bank for Christmas break,” said sophomore Alex Eck, “Usually, I’m busy on the weekends, so the break provides a time where I can serve the community for the better.”
The holidays provide a time to experience new forms of service and form deep connections with a volunteering site, a task almost impossible in the depths of the school year. As Cubs leave for Christmas break, they should remember to not only relax from the stresses of classwork but also bring forth new experiences with those in desperate need.