By Jeff Jacobsen
Online Content Manager
Some call it Holiday Cheer, others call it the Christmas Spirit.
For some UVU families in need the worry that Christmas won’t come this year is a stark reality.
According to Lindsay Goodrich, a full-time intern at UVU’s AmeriCorps working on their poverty initiative, matching families in need with sponsors is the most stressful part of working with the Sub-for-Santa program.
The UVU Volunteer and Service Learning Center coordinates students and charity organizations from the community all year long, but the zeal for helping that they demonstrate on a regular basis seems to spread throughout the population during the holiday season.
Along with her full-time school schedule, Goodrich spends a lot of her time working for AmeriCorps VISTA running the food pantry.
Emergency food assistance from food provided by the Community Action Food Bank in Provo, helps anywhere from one to five students each day, Goodrich explained. But helping “food insecurity” is not the main focus for AmeriCorps VISTA during the last few months of each year.
The Sub-for-Santa program, which began in early October, has been “a ton of work” for Goodrich. After their initial application, each student family in need went through a qualification and review process here at school, after which they were screened by United Way, the program’s community partner. Student sponsors were found to provide gifts for the applicants, then the hard part began, Goodrich said.
At first, there were not enough sponsors for all of the families that applied, which meant that Goodrich had to pick which needy families “got Christmas,” and which didn’t.
“It’s stressful and hard, but it makes a huge difference to all these families,” Goodrich said.
Fortunately, because of the spirit of giving which seems to permeate society with the coming of winter even more quickly than the cold that winter brings, more sponsors were found and no families in need were turned away this year. Some call it Holiday Cheer. Others call it the Christmas Spirit. Students and employees in the Volunteer and Service Learning Center simply call it all in a day’s work.
Krystal Rasmussen, president of the student-run Service Council that services the student section of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, seems to epitomize this spirit that flows throughout the volunteer hub with her beaming and seemingly permanent smile.
“Christmas is so fun, and really exciting because it’s the time of year when everybody is friendly and they want to give back,” Rasmussen said. “It’s weird that it happens at this time, but we’ll take it. We love it.”
Rasmussen described the Service Council as a group devoted to helping students provide service while they’re going to college that doesn’t cost them financially: volunteer hours. The council sponsors over 150 service projects each year, and students involved have the opportunity of working with faculty and community partners on a regular basis, in addition to helping people on a personal level. That connection with people, Rasmussen said, is “what it’s all about.”
It’s too late to get involved in this year’s Sub-for-Santa, but anyone that has the giving spirit can visit The Giving Tree in the Student Center by Subway for opportunities to help people in need during the holiday season. Of course, this season isn’t the only time people are encouraged to give. Work with the Volunteer and Service Learning Council is eagerly accepted all year.
“Being on the service council,” Rasmussen said, “is like experiencing Christmas every day.”