How do you get a teenager to learn the joy of sharing? For two Hidden Valley teens and their friends it has been the personal act of looking into the face of need and meeting it. For the fourth year in a row, Hidden Valley High School juniors Kaitlyn Noe and Delaney McGuirt, friends and classmates since kindergarten, will co-host their “Season to Share” Christmas party in one of their Southwest County homes in December. This holiday tradition began when two moms sought a way to teach their children the Christmas less that it is far better to give than to receive.
For years they had stuffed shoeboxes, put dollars in littler red pots outside grocery stores and sung Christmas carols at nursing homes. Wonderful holiday things that every child, especially those blessed with a good life, should learn to do for others. We just felt that as our girls became teenagers they could leran to do more. Always the giving had been to a faceless person whose need was a remote thing, foreign to their way of life. We needed some way for them to actually see the children they would help. As their mothers, we had only a small inkling of the change we were about to inspire.
Kaitlyn and Delaney’s first “Season to Share” project was to go shopping for young Somalian refugees housed in the Roanoke Valley. They gathered fourteen of their friends to join in the same task. Then on a Sunday afternoon in December they came together in the spirit of the season to share in friendship as they wrapped their purchases. Sixteen young girls were then transported to the housing project where these need children lived. As each girl knocked on a door and delivered a wrapped Christmas present, along with candy canes and needed items such as toothbrushes and school supplies, we watched the change begin to happen. The surprised joy on a young child’s face became mirrored in their own. As they looked around they also go a profound sens of the reality of need. By the time the last gift had been presented we knew something special had occurred. They were hooked! Yes Virginia, teenagers do have a heart, we watched it grown in size that day!
“Seeing the children’s faces and how excited they were made me feel rejuvenated and like a kid again myself. And giving to those less fortunate should be what Christmas is about anyway,” Kaitlyn said.
Since that first experience our daughters have looked forward to this event each year, planning it and gathering even more of their friends in an effort to try and blanket a small portion of the need here at home in the Valley. This year over twenty Hidden Valley students will participate in “A Season to Share”. They will shop not only for toys but clothing and other needed items. Because hunger is on the rise, Delaney and Kaitlyn have also decided to seek out donations of food to provide a Christmas dinner for the families of these children.
“God blesses us with so much, it’s all that we can do to share His gifts with others. That’s what Christmsa is turly about and it is the goal of ‘A Season to Share’. Instead of friends coming together to exchange gifts, we are giving to those less fortunate. It leaves me with an intense feeling of satisfaction to know that I made another child’s Christmas,” Delaney McGuirt said.
So have they learned about the joy of sharing? The answer is a resounding yes! With eagerness and a sense of purpsose, these girls and their friends will make that Chrimsta journey onece agian. By seeing this as a figt that we as aprents can give to them, we have found a personal way to teach that lesson. In a world of cell phones, intenet connections and byusy teenage lives, they now understand that in the act of sharing with others, tru joy can be found!
Submitted by Donna McGuirt