Plenty of help available for families during holidays


Jakob Marcum

The statistic shows the percentage of food insecurity in the different kind of families.

The smell of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner fill the air, and the room is filled with decorations of the variation of all fall colors; brown, orange, red and yellow. Then, the perfect Christmas tree is displayed, decorated with beautiful shining ornaments, a huge sparkling star at the top and big expensive presents spread across the bottom. This is what many people associate with the holidays, while others might think of stress, pressure, money, and family. The holidays put a huge amount of pressure on students and families, especially lower-income households.  The struggles and difficulties that might occur during the holidays leave many families to prayer, worry, and conflicts. According to the Executive Director of the Salvation Army, sometimes students are overwhelmed with responsibility.

“Being a high school student in a community with a lot of opportunities to find employment, sometimes, it makes it difficult carrying a fully loaded school [schedule], helping out at home, and trying to work and your parents might not even be able to transport you there, that’s the thing we see,” Major Cynthia Brockway said.

Families have trouble providing a Thanksgiving meal or Christmas presents. These things are important to many parents and guardians because it is their way of making their children happy or fulfilled, and showing them a sign of love. They might need help with making this a reality, because of financial issues, loss of family members, natural disaster or accidents. Salvation Army and other organizations, churches, and food pantries help to support these families.

“A lot of kids find themselves in the middle of all this,”  Brockway said. “Those kids go out and get a job to help within the family. Where they push resources towards their younger siblings and keep less for themselves, we try our best to make sure they are covered too.”

The Salvation Army provides a big Thanksgiving lunch on December 16th, starting at 11 a.m. They also have three programs around Christmas, which is the “adopt” a child or family program, Angel tree and Toyshop.

The adopt a child or family program is where individuals or families can sign up to provide a child or family with toys and food. The angel tree is where kids put up wishes, which donatores can use to get them their wishes. Toyshop is where families can come in and collect toys for their children.

“It’s not just helping people with their bills or giving their kids toys, it’s to be here so they feel like there is someone they can come and talk to, that’s what we are here for,” Brockway said.

There are students that experience the holidays differently than others. They might not celebrate the holidays with exceptional material goods as a majority of the students here do, but that doesn’t mean the minority of students are less fortunate.

“I celebrate holidays with family even the distant ones, we focus more on the actual celebration of the holiday, and not the decorations or the material goods of the holiday,” an anonymous student said.

Those students, who focus on family and friends throughout the holidays, might be more fortunate because they experience what the holidays are all about.

“It’s very object-oriented, people think the only way to celebrate holidays is by having decorations and expensive gifts,” an anonymous student said. “I can see somebody else’s crazy amount of stuff, and I just know we can’t afford it, even though we’re doing our best.”

There might be struggles in the holidays, but it also gathers families and community in unity.