By: Haley Preschutti, Track and Field
The holidays are known for being the season of giving. While we should embody this spirit all year long, there is something a little extra special about giving during this season. Over the years, my family has sponsored an impoverished family and bought their Christmas presents. The experience has taught me to always keep others in our minds and hearts, especially during a time when it is easy to lose sight of what is important. Between finals and the holiday rush, it is commonplace to forget to look outside of ourselves. I wanted our athletic department to have the opportunity to embrace the giving spirit, so I suggested that S.A.A.C. (the Student Athlete Advisory Committee) take on some kind of holiday project. The idea was warmly received.
As an organization, we have some big plans in store, including strengthening our involvement in the Richmond community and the smaller UR community within. For this holiday project, S.A.A.C. partnered with the university faculty to fill stockings for the children at St. Joseph’s Villa. This organization supports children with special needs, as well as their families.
The athletes’ initial goal was to fill 48 stockings with a fun gift item in each. When I first announced the project to the committee comprised of representatives from the UR sports teams, I explained that each team’s goal should be to donate 5-6 items or donate money. I was excited to see that people appeared interested and willing to embrace the project. When I announced the project to my team, I was moved. People responded immediately and were so willing to donate money to the cause. The initial goal was to simply get a dollar per person. I am so proud to say that almost everyone willingly gave more – without a second thought. As I walked through a store with the money I had collected from various teams, I was even further surprised by the athletes’ generosity as more donations flooded in. We were able to raise enough money to exceed our goal and fill each stocking with multiple gifts.
Projects like this just really put life into perspective… what seems so small to us can make a child’s holiday season. Each day we must be grateful for the opportunities and blessings we have… our families, teammates that become our lifelong friends, the amazing support system of our staff, the privilege to receive such a wonderful education, and the fortune to play the sports we love. For some, we are living the dream. It is important to be able to take a step back, appreciate all that we are blessed with, but also acknowledge that others are not as lucky. We cannot sit idly and simply relish in our good fortune. As leaders on this campus, it is our responsibility to set the example and give back to those that are in need.
The great thing about giving is that it is contagious and inspiring. Kindness breeds kindness and no act is ever too small. You can put a smile on someone else’s face while also bringing one to your own. That is the beauty of the giving spirit. This project is a gentle reminder that we must remember to think of others throughout the whole year, and carry the magic of this giving spirit with us every day.