As a Caritas student, on an early 10 am December Sunday, I gave up my time to help with a Christmas party at St. John’s Church. This Christmas party wasn’t a typical one as it was organised for the homeless in our community. At this point, I hadn’t really put much thought into the Christmas party and didn’t know what to expect.
Around 15 other Caritas students and I arrived at St. John’s before the guests. We were put to work quite quickly – we spent quite some time sorting a huge bundle of clothes into piles of male and female. We then put the clothes in bags with other essentials such as toothpaste and deodorant. This wasn’t really the job I thought I would have been doing but we all worked as a team to have everything sorted in time.
5 other Caritas students and I then had the job of serving the food to everyone that had arrived. For the starter, we had given out bowls of soup. When I went from table to table, I noticed that there were always one or two people at each table who would pass their soup over to someone else. I realised that they were making sure that everyone else had theirs before they did. This was quite amazing to me despite it being such a small act of kindness. It just shows the selfishness of people who essentially have nothing to give. On top of that, I don’t think I’ve heard so many ‘thank you’s in such a short period of time. It was clear how grateful those in attendance were. Next, we served the main, then the desert; by the end of it, there was hardly anything left of it all.
We then had a karaoke and so many joined in, both the guests and Caritas students. Personally, I believe it was great for them to have had a social gathering. I’m sure many of them will tend to feel lonely, especially during the festive seasons. I noticed how much their days were brightened up and realised how much some homeless people would appreciate even a smile and a conversation if we were to see them on the streets. We then distributed all the bags of clothes and utilities we had made up earlier on in the day. I couldn’t help but think that their reactions were comparable to those of a 5-year-old on Christmas morning – a sight that broke my heart and mended it straight afterward.
With it being such a busy day, it was only when I was home and tucking into a Sunday roast that I began to reflect on the hours just passed. I tried to put myself in their position and attempted to comprehend the daily struggles they may face every day. I found it unbelievably impossible! However, I do know that on that day, along with many other great people, I helped make the day of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. And the price I paid? A few hours out of what would have been a day full of procrastination – nothing. Yet, I got back so much and I’m sure the other students who went would definitely agree. The people I was surrounded with that day were like you and me; the awful truth is that homelessness could happen to any of us. So, why wait to start caring when it’s you? Some of these people rely heavily on the community they’re in and have nobody else. Our school already does so much to help the homeless community out. We donate to foodbanks yet we never realize the impact this truly has. I’m so grateful to have been able to see the changes we can make.
I think it’s amazing that St. John’s Church in Stevenson organises this and I know everybody appreciated it. I encourage everyone to be more of an active role in their community and to help people who need it. You might not get anything materialistic from volunteering, but you gain so much insight and an appreciation for what you have and take for granted. Not to mention how much of a difference you’d be making in someone else’s life.
By Chloe Robertson