'Tis the Season to Donate and Volunteer

The holiday season is once again upon us and excitement is filling the WSU campus. It is the time of year where college students like you and I grow tired of our own cooking or the food in the cafeteria and look forward to heading home to our families to a long awaited, home-cooked meal.

With all the excitement of going home, it is easy to forget an important aspect of what Thanksgiving is about, being thankful for what you have. With all of the daily stressors that impact our lives, it is difficult to truly think about what we really have to be grateful for. Taking a step back and being grateful for what you have is something that is stressed around this time of year, and trust me, we all have things in which to be grateful for.

If you are reading this, then you are fortunate enough to have access to technology and the Internet. If you experience the stress of daily schoolwork, then you are fortunate enough to be in school. If you have plans to spend the holiday eating with friends and family, then you are fortunate enough to have loved ones that you can enjoy the day with.

Unfortunately, many people do not have the luxuries that many of us have. There are many that do not have money for food, shelter, or access to even basic living accommodations that we take for granted. As one can imagine, this time of year can be very difficult for people in need.

I feel that it is important to acknowledge how truly important it is to reach out to these people and help them have the enjoyable holiday we all deserve. Helping those in need, especially this time of year, can have a very positive and meaningful impact on someone’s life.  This can be done with something as little as donating or as big as volunteering your time for a good cause.

There is no one reason that I can tell you why you should volunteer because I feel that it is personal decision. Many people find religion as a motivator to give, others find that they just want to help out a fellow human being, and others take personal pride in giving. No matter what reason motivates you, the impact will still be the same. Volunteering brings people together, builds a sense of community, and truly makes an impact on the lives of people who need it.

The positive effects also don’t extend only to others however. Personally, volunteering and donating can give a sense of motivation and self achievement, help you meet a variety of people, introduce you to new hobbies and even help boost your career opportunities.

There are many opportunities to get out there here in Winona. For example, the Winona State Student Council for Exceptional Children Club is working with the Kids First Daycare Center is hosting “Stock the Shelves at Kids First” in order to provide underprivileged children in the area with items such as baking mixes, frosting, sprinkles, etc. In addition, the Special Education department is hosting a book drive for local children. There is a box in the Gildemeister Office where all books and items can be dropped off.

The Housing and Residence Life Office has set out collection bins in the residence halls for their annual Toys for Tots drive. There will be many more drives like these taking place through the rest of November and into December.

If you would like to volunteer your time, there are plenty of opportunities located locally here in Winona. Habitat For Humanity, the Winona Parks and Recreations Department, and many other organizations are located here that would love additional hands to help out.

Whatever way you would like to get out there, getting involved and helping others is something that can make lasting impacts on everyone in the community.  ‘Tis the season to be happy and to make others happy as well.

–Caleb Bednarski

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