JEFFERSON — During this time of year, many of us are celebrating the holidays – spending time with our families, eating holiday feasts, exchanging gifts and relaxing the days away. However, several Senior Leadership Club members of Jefferson High School had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays quite differently as they volunteered at the annual Catholic Charities Christmas party on Dec. 17.
When the party members began arriving, students took part in several volunteer activities including greeting the party attendees, serving beverages and assisting in the kitchen. Lunch was served and Christmas carols were sung by both the JHS students and the community members. Before everyone left, the JHS students shared the gifts that they had prepared for each of the Catholic Charity members – a gift bag filled with an assortment of toiletry items.
For many people, this seems like a normal holiday celebration; however, to the community members attending the Christmas party, this day was much more valuable. They did not take the lunch or the festivities for granted, and they showed extreme gratitude and appreciation toward the party hosts and JHS volunteers. Their responses and attitude toward this celebration had a major impact on many of the students who were in attendance.
“It was a great experience to help out with the Catholic Charities,” said Senior Leadership president, Bernadette Geraghty. “Many of us helped out with this event to give back to our community; however, the people at the party ended up giving much more back to us.”
She said that their Christmas spirit and great appreciation of the activities that many people take for granted, the people who attended the party helped her and many other students, gain a new appreciation for the holidays.
“Taking part in this charitable event definitely makes me want to volunteer more often,” Geraghty said.
Senior Kaydee DeVivo agreed with Geraghty that the event was very valuable. “To some people at the party, that celebration meant the world. It was great to give them a chance to forget about all of their stress, eat a great meal together, be thankful, and enjoy the company of others – the true meaning of Christmas,” DeVivo said.
Michael Barney, Senior Leadership Club adviser at Jefferson High School, feels that the event is vital to the Leadership Club at Jefferson.
“For the past eight years, our school has been involved with the Catholic Charities Christmas party,” said Barney. “Its impact is tremendous, and it shows the students the importance of giving back to their community.”
“It takes a lot of dedication to spend one’s personal time doing volunteer work in the community,” Geraghty said. “ I am very proud to be a part of a school that puts so much pride in volunteering. It’s a great feeling knowing that we are helping to make the community a better place.”
The students of Senior Leadership Club agreed that it is important to give back to the community, and that the Catholic Charities Christmas event showed them just how rewarding it could be. The seniors expressed their hope that participation in this event continues for years to come because it gave them a sense of appreciation for not just the holidays, but for life itself, and the many things in life that people take for granted.