“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Mother Teresa

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Snow is falling, Christmas lights add some cheer to the nightlife of campus, and there are many opportunities for us to give back to the community.

I went to a small all-girls Catholic high school and every year in December we had a program called Holiday Hopes. Starting in October, all the students would begin raising money for families from a local elementary school who do not have enough money to give their family the Christmas they would like to. Everyone has a week to collect as much money as possible, and then it is collected and divided up to each person from the families. Every homeroom is the assigned a family and within that homeroom, groups of girls buy presents and food for each member of the family. Each group would then take a day to get together and shop for that person.

Holiday Hopes was the best day of the year. Jesus bells, wrapping paper roll fights, Christmas music playing over the intercom, what could be better?

But Holiday Hopes was more than just Jesus bells and wrapping paper roll fights; it was about giving. Giving the gift of the perfect Christmas for a family who wouldn’t otherwise have one; giving the gift of joy to a child when they see all the presents under the tree Christmas morning; giving the gift of gratitude to the mom who comes to pick up all the gifts and food we have provided for them. But most important, it is giving the gift of love.

Walking through the foyer and seeing all the huge piles of wrapped boxes of food and gifts brought me such joy and a feeling of satisfaction knowing we helped over 20 families have the Christmas they dreamed about. After participating in Holiday Hopes for four years, my senior year I was finally able to directly give the family we helped their gifts. I signed up to be an elf during study hall, and our family came to pick up their gifts while I was helping. Holiday Hopes is a great cause, but it means so much more when you witness the smile and the gratitude of the moms and or dads that come to pick up what we have given them. I will never forget that moment. All the planning and shopping and frantic wrapping and packing was worth it when my friends and I were able to see the mom of the family when she came to get everything we had for her.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa was once again right in saying this. Most of the time, we do not think we make much of a difference in the lives of others, but even the littlest act of kindness can show your love for that person. This year, I have the opportunity to continue my Holiday Hopes tradition as my group of friends has adopted a family that we will buy Christmas presents for. It may seem like such a minimal task, buying a few things for a stranger, but to that stranger, you are showing them more love than you could ever know. This Christmas, I challenge you to show love through what you give. Give time at a local soup kitchen; give money to the Salvation Army bell ringers who you would normally just walk passed; but most importantly, give love.

God’s love is the greatest love there is. “For God so loved the world He gave His only son” John 3:16. Christmas is a time to celebrate that great love God has for us. What better way to show it than to give it to others? Xavier has many opportunities to give back this Christmas; to give back the love of God. Help out with Xavier Christmas, donate gloves or hats or scarves to the less fortunate, or even do what I’m doing and find a way to sponsor a family and have your own Holiday Hopes. Whatever way you decide to give, give love with what you do.

devonDevon James is a freshman Public Relations and Theology Major from Chicagoland. She works in the CFJ as a student worker and also has her own blog, She enjoys singing, blogging, and browsing Pinterest when she actually has time.