A Selfless Present: Volunteers devote their time for the holidays

What  seemed like another regular school day for sophomore Diane C. turned out to be extremely significant.

“After carrying out my daily routine at Kerr, a group of theater kids and I took the bus to MD Anderson Cancer Center where we’d perform skits and sing songs to the cancer patients,” Diane said.

Volunteering at MD Anderson for the first time was nerve-wracking, but Diane was reassured the moment that she arrived.

“I felt super nervous but my butterflies disappeared when I saw the black-lettered ‘Cancer Center’ sign with the word ‘Cancer’ crossed out by a red bow. The center reminded me of a really nice hotel. There was a gigantic Christmas tree, a fancy piano and we were greeted by a friendly doorbell guy upon our arrival,” Diane continued. “When we were performing for the patients I was able to transform my nervousness into adrenaline, into energy that helped me perform better.”

In the midst of colorful wrapping paper and compiling wish-lists, people often forget another gift: the gift of giving.

Students for Humanity, however, take this gift to heart. 

“Our next fund raiser involves us making teddy bears and selling them in pairs of two,” Students for Humanity co-president Anh L. said. “Kerr students get a chance to purchase the teddy bears, keep one and give the other one to the orphans at Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services.”

 Students for Humanity’s new fundraiser was inspired by their need to give back to the community.

“Previous years, we don’t really do much to give back during the holidays, so this year we’re going to change that with our teddy bear fundraiser,” Anh said.

Students aren’t the only ones giving back during the holidays. Business teacher Doris Curry has been adopting a platoon — a unit that usually consist of 16-50 soldiers — for years, sending them letters once per week and a care package filled with donations and other goodies once per month.

“I do it because some of these soldiers join the military because they were lonely and knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives is rewarding,” said Curry.

She focuses not on the war but rather the soldiers that risk their lives fighting those wars.

“Even if you don’t support the war, it’s still necessary to support the soldiers fighting it,” said Curry.

Financing the donations, however, are not the hardest part.

“The hardest part is writing the letters to soldiers telling them about the mundane things that goes on in my life,” Curry said, “like when I was moving and it was 109 degrees outside but they’ve been fighting the war for years under 150 degrees. But that’s what they want to hear, they want to know that everything at home is same.”

Whatever the form, those who give back strive to do so because of the rewarding feeling that they get in return.

“I felt like I have gained more than I give when volunteering at MD Anderson. Seeing the cancer patients laugh and smile, knowing that you’ve made someone’s life better even if it’s for a couple of hours, gave me a warm feeling inside. It also taught me to appreciate life more,” Diane said. “Even when they’re diagnosed with terminal cancer, they managed to laugh and have fun with their lives, so why can’t I?”