Rediscovering the reason for the season

For many students, the holidays are a time of excess.

Excessive spending, eating, and drinking can really lay waste to one’s health and finances.

Stray from the seasonal consumerism

Students don’t have to feed into Christmas-time consumerism. Remembering the reason for the season could be the first step to making the holidays more meaningful, according to Drew Gusztak, volunteer manager at the Mustard Seed shelter. 

“The reason for the season is to give and to love each other, but for [the less fortunate] it’s just to get all of those urgent[ly] needed items,” said Gusztak, who added that the giving season will often supply the shelter’s needs for the whole year. 

Gusztak said giving to the less fortunate during the holidays comes down to dignity. 

“Everything they experience in their life is not what we experience over Christmas — the giving, the family moments — all those things that we really value.

“They don’t get a lot of that, so it’s important to provide those experiences, and to restore their dignity, their hope, and to do it in a really gentle way.”  

The Mustard Seed has plenty of options to give people happy holidays who need them most

The Mustard Seed offers many ways for students to get involved over the holidays, including serving or sponsoring a meal, donation sorting, preparing a bagged lunch, building a backpack, or filling a food hamper for someone in need. 

Gusztak said that although many volunteer positions are filled, there are still areas where students can help out this holiday season. 

In addition to helping those in need over the holidays, gifting your loved ones DIY and thoughtfully-crafted gifts could really enhance your holiday season, according to Jill Nuckles, outreach, volunteer, and events coordinator at the Alberta Craft Council.

You don’t have to have tons of experience to do it, either. 

Make gifts meaningful

Picking up some yarn from the local craft shop and knitting a scarf for a loved one, or taking a pottery class at a local art gallery are just some of the ways that Nuckles said students could DIY a meaningful gift.

Nuckles said that a crafted gift shows that you care enough about that person, and the material, to make something with “love, kindness, and compassion.”  

“[It has more] meaning in it compared to something you buy at the mall that is made in a factory where millions of them are made,” said Nuckles.

“No one really cares about the final outcome.” 

If crafting or making a DIY gift isn’t your style, Nuckles suggests checking out the Alberta Craft Gallery for some fine craft and art from local artisans.

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