As we race through the first few weeks of December, I hope its shortened days bring a winter break window during which we can all rest a little more as we enter into our various festivities and prepare for the second stretch of the academic year.
I am writing to you on Giving Tuesday, which reminds me of the hope that December never ceases to light. Today my social media feeds are filled with examples of the good that people are doing in the world in the service of others, through education, food, shelter, and general support. While these feeds remind me that there are many people and animals who are not cared for adequately, they also underscore the good work people are doing to raise them up and help them find their way.
With our children getting older, last year we began a new holiday tradition of participating in the local Toys for Tots delivery program. My older daughter, who is a senior this year, signed us up to be part of the delivery team on Christmas morning. At 5:30 am, we met at the warehouse in our area where all the toys had been collected, sorted, and boxed. Each car in our caravan took a load of items presorted by age group, and off we went to deliver toys, bikes, necessities, and gift cards to families who did not know they were receiving anything that morning. (They had been nominated by others in their communities.) While my husband particularly enjoyed the police escort and the ability to run lights in our minivan, for me it was one of the most re-centering activities we have done as a family. To witness the scope of community involvement and good will engaged in collecting, coordinating, and distributing the donations, as well as identifying places and people of need, was awe-inspiring.
It does not escape me that many – if not most – of our schools are directly involved in similar programs, often as part of the community brigade helping to coordinate and bring further success to these programs. The work we do helping our students to understand the challenges within and beyond our walls and to find ways to meaningfully engage in the broader world is crucial to healthier communities. It is important that we remember the incredible impact that this work has, both in the moment and as our students become adults who continue to engage with, support, and sometimes run these vital offerings. As educational institutions, it can be easy for us to forget that the work we do in the moment, and these habits we help create, pay forward and have very tangible impacts within our immediate communities and far beyond them as our alumni fan out. Thank you for continuing this work and for modeling it for our students and communities.
My sincerest wish for you this holiday season is that you have the time to appreciate the impact that you and your school community have, and that you have the opportunity to participate in these moments that bring so much joy, hope, and care to others.