I am a first year student new to Madison House and I am currently involved in Holiday Sharing. Making the transition from high school to college has been pretty tough. I came from a small high school where it was easy to stay busy and involved. I spent a lot of time doing community service; it meant so much to me in high school, and more than anything, I wanted to stick with it here. One of the things that has made my transition easier has been my involvement in Holiday Sharing. I went into this program not really knowing what to expect, but so far, I have appreciated every minute of it.

My absolute favorite part was something new to the program this year: going down to the Salvation Army’s store and signing up families to participate in the Angel Tree Program. We went on a Friday, the last day available for families to sign up. Although these were not the specific families that Madison House sponsors, it was still an amazing opportunity to meet people who would benefit from our help. The process seemed a little difficult at first, but after observing a few other volunteers, we got the hang of it and had one on one interaction with the mothers and fathers who needed help this Christmas. Most of the people we saw were extremely grateful for our help and it was so amazing to see how much these parents cared for their children. One man, a father of four young children, came in initially without the proper documents needed to sign up. However, instead of giving up, he came back later with everything filled out and ready to go, just to make sure his kids had something to open for Christmas. His dedication and love for his kids made such an impact on me, and made me realize how important the Holiday Sharing program is to these families.

Often times, it is difficult to feel like I am making a difference, especially when I do not see or interact with the people that need help. After going down to help families sign up, I know that I am making a difference. My office hours this past week included working at the holiday trees located around grounds and asking people to sign up to donate a gift. Looking at the snowmen on the tree, with items like a baby blanket, clothes, toys for boys and girls, and gift cards, I felt a connection with these gifts written on paper and the faces I saw at the Salvation Army. These people really needed our help, and it made me so much more passionate when I explained the program to students passing by, and satisfaction when someone decided to buy a gift. I know how happy these kids will be when they have gifts to open for Christmas and I am especially looking forward to distribution day, when the families that we sponsor through Madison House come to pick up their gifts. I can’t wait to see the smiles on the kids’ faces, that would not have been possible without the love of their parents and the spirit and help of volunteers.

My hands trembled a bit in the elevator as I held a basket of paper pumpkins, the faces on the construction paper were scrawled heavily by inexperienced sharpie users – young children at a local church. Each pumpkin had a different face and I had been instructed to deliver them to the entire hospital, an intimidating feat, which I admit I left without fully completing. Looking back, those pumpkins were really cute! At the time, I was too nervous about the task at hand. The elevator binged, alerting me that my ascension skyward had ended. I stepped out, adjusted my ill-fitting smock and walked to the entrance of the unit.

I thought of that Liberty Mutual commercial where one person’s good deed aids the entire community. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, please check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frpp6DjCaJU&feature=related )

With a bit more pep in my step, I walked into the first room.

A woman with a newborn on her chest told me loudly to come in; she had to talk loudly to be heard over the woman talking on the telephone and the court show on television. I carefully chose the prettiest of the scary construction paper pumpkins and walked to her bedside. I explained that young volunteers wanted to spread the spirit of the holiday by giving everyone mini pumpkins. She smiled broadly and took the pumpkin, showing it off to everyone in the room. The baby squirmed and I snuck a peek at his little face. She gushed about how sweet the gesture was and I left the room down 1 pumpkin, with 40 more ugly faces longing to be given away.

The rest of the delivery went smoothly; each pumpkin got its proper oohs and aahs! The bottom of the basket still couldn’t be seen among the pile of pumpkins and I contemplated skipping my Spanish test in order to finish my assignment. I felt like the Santa Clause of Halloween. Sometimes I forget how important it is to display small acts of kindness!

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