Giving back this holiday season: ‘really about this idea of family and community’

Emily Henbest, Reporter

Philanthropic initiatives such as food, clothing and toy drives aim to ensure this time of the year can be enjoyed by all. California Lutheran University’s Student Life, and the Religion Department, teamed up to provide community opportunities to give back this holiday season.

“Even for people who aren’t religious, the holidays are really about this idea of family and community,” Jessica Easter, Cal Lutheran senior and assistant to the Religion Department said.

From Nov. 15 to the 22, the Religion Department and campus ministries hosted a clothing drive to give back to children of migrant workers through the nonprofit Mexican Medical Ministries.

“It’s going to be given out to children of migrant workers who oftentimes come from the south end of Mexico and don’t have the proper clothes for a coastal winter in northern Mexico, especially in homes that don’t have heating, as most of them don’t,” Easter said.

The idea to team up with Mexican Medical Ministries was brought to Easter and the Religion Department by first-year Hadley Julca. In the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Julca and her Girl Scout troop annually teamed-up with the nonprofit. 

“I realized that since I’m at college, there are probably other kids who would be willing to help and donate. So I reached out to my troop leader, had her contact me with the contact from the nonprofit,” said Julca. ”And then after that, I talked to Reverend Scott about it. And he told me to reach out to people. That’s how I ended up running into Jessica Easter.”

According to Julca, the Cal Lutheran community showed up to give back to the children of migrant workers with multiple trash bags full of things to donate. Student Life’s Civic Engagement and Leadership series also put on an event on Nov. 29 to encourage students to give back this holiday season. 

“We just like to see participation, we’re not necessarily looking for a monetary goal or number of cans or something like that. We’re just looking for a big community show out to a big, you know, it’s like a good event,” Christina Whyte, annual giving coordinator, said.

For some, the holiday season encourages people to give back to their community.

“I don’t think that we, as Christians, are doing our jobs if we’re not helping out people in need,” Easter said.

For others, giving back during the holidays is about making sure that people can find the resources to receive the help they need.

“Personally, I came from a background where we did sometimes have to rely quite a bit on the generosity of others. So it’s nice to finally be in a position where I can turn around and do the same thing. Even if I’m, like, not able to give money or whatever, I can still help and I can still make a difference,” Julca said. 

Upcoming opportunities to give back to the community before winter break include the Doves of Love toy drive put on by student life in collaboration with the non-profit Casa Pacifica. The Doves of Love- Drop-off Party will take place Wednesday, Dec. 7th from 4 – 6 p.m. in the Student Union lobby.