Around Christmas time, kids get excited for the presents that wait under the Christmas tree. Parents are stressed about if the gifts they get will make their kids happy and sometimes, they are stressed about being able to provide for their family. Christmas time is often filled with giving and receiving gifts, but not all families are able to spend the extra money to get gifts or an extravagant dinner. Because there is a need, others step up to do what they can around the holidays, but it is never enough to fill the gap entirely.
Western Michigan Christian High School and Middle School is located in the Muskegon area where there is a large need for financial help. Every year WMCHS does a fundraiser called Project Grace. This project is put on for the students to donate and then go shopping and the class who brings the most gets to deliver the presents to the families. While this may be extremely helpful for the families, this project tends to be just as, if not more, helpful to the students involved.
The project started off raising very little, but now it has grown so much that the school is able to provide for 26 families in the community. The students join together as a family to accomplish a goal. As I experienced this, I knew that other kids were feeling similar emotions. I decided to ask some students and staff how this project has affected them towards giving and Christmas.
Here is what they said.
- Project Grace makes you think about others needs. Around Christmas time, we think about our friends and family, but Project Grace requires you to think outside your bubble and see that there are others out there who need help. -Rosema (student)
- If I could describe Project Grace, I would say it is eye opening. It helps you become aware of others out there and how much we, as students, are able to accomplish. - Myers (student)
- It is humbling. We have so much and Christmas is normally a good time for us. But for others, not so much. It is nice to be able to make their Christmas a little bit better. -Weesies (student)
- The fundraiser is an annual reminder of what Christ showed to us. To give and serve others, doing something Christ-like as a school, it is just a wonderful reminder. - Kingma (student)
- To me, this is very touching. To see the simple things that the kids and parents request for presents and to see the end result of the joy they have is very touching. - Longcore (student)
- I love to be involved each year and give back to the community. If we’re living for ourselves, we’re missing the big picture. The joy of seeing families blessed and that I can be a blessing. - Scott (Adult)
- I’ve ever given that much before, and I have seen how many families have been able to be helped. This has made me want to give more because there are others out there who need it more than I do. - K.VanHekken (student)
- I went shopping and all the people that I shopped for asked for things that are taken for granted. I never thought socks would be #1 on my list, but this has made me more thankful for what I have. -Wright (student)
- I felt humbled to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Some parents can only give one pair of pants to their kid and simple things like this make me realize that we are blessed as a community to be able to help. -Hubers (student)
- I have been a part of this for the past 6 years and my favorite part is watching students experience the joy of giving, The moment they realize it’s not about them but others. -J. VanHekken (Staff)
- I remember what Mrs. Vanhekken said about giving until it hurts or at least until you feel it. It was great to see the “hurting” bring “healing” to others. -Risselade (student)
- Project Grace is ground shaking. It is always nice to get but it opens our eyes and that we should look around the world and see the way we can give. Christmas is about giving and Jesus was the biggest gift. -Harmen (7th grader)
- Sometimes we can isolate ourselves with our busy schedules and nor realize the hurting in communities. Being involved in something like this opens your eyes to the things you’re normally blind to. - Sweetman (student)
- Project Grace always reminds me of my commitment to the community as a believer. We are our brother's keeper, we’re called to love the least of these and o shine in places of darkness. Project Grace literally does this. We are able to shine light in places of darkness. -Greer (staff)
- There are people everywhere who take things for granted and there are people everywhere that are in need of lots of things. There are more people than I thought. This helps us recognize the privileges we have and we should praise God for some of the things we have and others don’t. -Nadeau (7th grader)
- God creates pathways to move in hearts and Project Grace is a pathway for both the families who we bring presents to and the kids involved. The kids have been getting more involved and they are able to share Jesus through this, and if the presents are the pathway that God has used to touch the families life, then it is a blessing to us. - Smith (teacher)As a teenager, donating was something I have never been actively involved in, but Project Grace opened my eyes to what needs there are outside of my own bubble. During the holidays, it is easy to focus on my own wants and needs. My school has made it possible to be involved with something bigger than myself and to be a part of helping a community. These kids are ones not unlike myself. The hardships that people face are what bring them to the darkness in the world, and in a dark time, it is wonderful to be a part of shining a light.