Santa’s helpers

MCHS volunteer their time to make holidays memorable for community members


Annapatricia Cruz

Because of MCHS’s student volunteers this holiday season, including those from Key Club and other service organizations, many children in the community will receive Christmas presents that might not have otherwise.

Vanessa Moreno, News Editor

Junior Kristin Anderson stands in front of Jewel Osco, ringing a bell in front of a Salvation Army donation kettle — a sign the holiday season has begun. She embraces the holiday spirit, knowing she’s making a difference in the lives of community members.

Like many McHenry High School students, Anderson volunteers this holiday season to give back and spread holiday cheer.

“I love seeing how excited people get the first time they see us [bell-ringing],” she says. “A highlight is when I see parents who use their donations … to teach their children about the importance of charity.”

Spreading the spirit of charity, MCHS’ Key Club continued its annual gift-wrapping tradition for Rosecrance, a behavioral health services provider in McHenry. Students were able to donate 750 gifts to over 60 Rosecrance families.

“This is my favorite [volunteer opportunity] because there’s always going to be people who can’t wake up on Christmas morning and open gifts,” Key Club Statistical Secretary Jackie Quintanal says. “The smallest action of getting them a gift and knowing their face will light up brings me joy.”

Many students cited the gift-wrapping event as their favorite and the most impactful. Not only did students help the community, but they also had fun in the process. Key Club members received a list of community members and shopped for them.

“I got 11 gift tags for the Christmas adoption program,” Anderson adds. “Each listed the age and gender as well as what they [were] asking for. I loved going on a shopping spree … I was thinking about what they would be excited for and what would encourage their interests.”

In another event, students set up activities for children at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Among the activities were poetry, carpentry, weaving, cookie decorating and learning Hebrew.

“I deeply enjoy the feeling of helping the best I can and building experience … ” sophomore Keely Wilder says. “I’ve been one of the helped families at the church before. I remember how great it was that there were people to help me build those memories I now carry with me.”

Students agree their combined efforts positively impact McHenry and surrounding communities — especially during the holiday season. To many, the holidays are a memorable time of the year, and volunteering makes a difference for those who might not be able to celebrate otherwise.

“I do recommend volunteering because [it is] a fun experience helping others,” senior Brandon Rivera says. “As an old man from a movie once said, ‘It’s not about what you receive, it’s about what you give!”

As students ring their bells at Jewel Osco, children and adults embrace the holiday spirit. They deposit coins into the donation kettles and, in their own way, give back to the community and spread holiday cheer.