3 Ways to Boost the Spirit of Giving on Campus

We are now in the midst of the holiday season. Parties, decorations, sweet treats, and of course the most important thing GIFTS.  Adults are dashing around town trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list and children are busy sharpening their pencils to jot down all the things they would love to see under that tree. But wait…. The Grinch found out from the Whos in Whoville that “ Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more”. 

We remind our students that this time of year is about the spirit of giving to others. It’s such a heartwarming sight to see Angel Trees filled with gifts for less fortunate children and new coats and blankets being donated to those who need warmth during the cold weather. 

Although our intentions are pure and the message of the true spirit of Christmas is understood by our students, I feel there may be a disconnect between the desire to give and the action of giving. The missing link is that the thought of giving is still associated with material objects and students, for the most part, don’t have the money or access that will allow them to participate. As counselors, our focus should be on exploring ideas to promote the giving spirit in ways that a student can engage in without a monetary value attached to it.  

Here are three simple ways to boost the spirit of giving on your campus without requiring money or things:

Gift of Human Contact

The definition of this simply says it’s the interaction with other people. Encourage students and staff to spread the joy of human contact through handshakes, high fives, hugs, or hellos with as many people as they can each day. This video is a great visual that shows the power of a hug.

Gift of Words

Although our primary method of interaction is through social media and texting, there is still something so powerful about a handwritten letter.  Launch a letter writing campaign on campus. Students can write letters to people they know in lieu of giving gifts or they can send letters to others who may need a boost of Christmas spirit, such as our troops, elderly nursing home residents, or long term patients in a hospital. 

Gift of Time

Technology is designed to make our lives easier and in so many ways it has, but it has become so interwoven that we can have conversations without ever interacting with another human.  Encourage the act of carving out time to “unplug” and engage in actual dialogue. Vow to walk the halls of the campus with your phones put away so that your heads are up and you are open to see someone who may need your undivided attention.

The spirit of giving to others is a foundational value that can be reinforced by utilizing your student leadership team.  Encourage the “pay it forward” mentality within your team and inspire them to spread the “wealth” to as many people as they can. If you would like assistance with cultivating a culture of giving on campus, take a look at how JC Pohl and Teen Truth can help you. Before heading off to Christmas break use this free guidance lesson to promote the true spirit of the holidays. 

”Christmas is the spirit of giving without the thought of getting. It is happiness because we see the joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values. “—Thomas S. Monson

Penny Knight
School Counselor, TEEN TRUTH

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