The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

'Tis the Season of Giving

We all know that one person that is impossible to buy for during the holiday season. Whether it's because they have everything or they refuse to cough up their Christmas list, you're always left stumped on what to leave them under the tree. A family friend of mine, has a neat way to combat this frustrating situation, and to make sure that she isn't just spending money on useless things. She takes that money she would spend on a gift, and makes donations to charities on the behalf of who is receiving the gift or on the behalf of someone they love. When I first heard this idea, I was in awe. It was such a simplistic yet beautiful thing. It embodies the true meaning of this holiday season and it brought so much joy to my heart, as I know it brought joy to those receiving care as a result of those charities. So this holiday season, I encourage you to help out the less fortunate and to give a gift that really matters. Instead of buying candles, and mittens, and all those other cliché Christmas gifts for coworkers, friends or that person you thought of reading the first sentence of this article give to a charity or a ministry that has its sights set on bettering the world. Listed below are a few charities that are easy to donate to and have some really cool missions that would appreciate your holiday donation.

Heifer International

Heifer International uses the “to teach a man to fish” philosophy to empower families that struggle with hunger. Heifer International works to bring sustainable food and commerce to areas with longstanding histories with food insecurity. Countries impacted by Heifer International include Africa, Nepal, Haiti and even projects here in the United States. Heifer works by allowing families to donate money to purchase livestock-goats, cows, buffalo, and chickens- that are then donated to families in impoverished areas. These families can use the animals for food, agricultural work, or use their direct products, eggs or milk, as a source of income. Families then take this training and experience and pass it on to another family with the firstborn of their livestock. To help Heifer International and their mission of sustainability check out their website

Pay Away the Layaway

Many retailers offer the option of paying for items during the season through a process called layaway. Customers can place items that are too expensive for purchasing at once on layaway, and pay for the item over a period of time. Families can pick up their layaway items once the price has been paid in full. Pay Away the Layaway and their team of “Layaway Angels” partner with stores to pay off families’ layaway carts and surprise them with these gifts during the holidays. Many professional athletes have teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway to help relieve the financial burden of Christmas presents for families. To donate money towards a families layaway cart you can visit Pay Away the Layaway’s site at

St. Jude

Well known for its mission to end childhood cancer, St. Jude is one of the leading research centers for the study and treatment of pediatric cancer and other life-threatening illness. St. Jude operates at no cost to families of patients thanks to individual donations. Christmas is an extremely hard time for families of children with illness, many residents of St. Jude will stay in their facility over the holiday. Donating to this wonderful foundation and research center not only gives money to fund research but also helps in giving these families free treatment and the most enjoyable stay possible during this holiday season. When donating you can also opt to send a Christmas card to a child in the center. To donate to St. Jude you can visit their website at

Salvation Army

Do you remember the first time you went shopping during the Christmas holidays and heard a bell ring outside of a department store? You glanced over to see a volunteer, maybe Santa, standing next to a red kettle being filled with change from shoppers passing by. You wondered what that was all about? This holiday memory is thanks to The Salvation Army. While The Salvation Army has hundreds of ministries and ways to help those in need, their red kettle project has been one of the most successful in fighting to end hunger during the holidays. Since 1981 when Joseph McFee set out the first red kettle in the Oakland Ferry Landing in San Francisco, this project has grown to help over four-and-a-half million people receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner during the holiday season. To help the Salvation Army fund this initiative or for more information on the other ministries they provide check them out at,

Toys for Tots

Sponsored and run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots' mission is to provide the message of hope to less-fortunate children through a new toy at Christmas time. Many cities and towns have local level Toys for Tots programs in which new toys can be donated, many of these programs are run by veterans or local law enforcement. To find where you can donate toys in your local level or to make an online donation visit their website

Cure International

Cure International is a faith-based charity striving to help children with disabilities in countries where, often times, medical assistance is unattainable and unaffordable. The children Cure work to help are those who are least protected, under fed, and not included in social activity due to their disability. They also work to provide spiritual help and support to these children who grow up in cultures that often believe their disability is due to a curse and deems them unworthy of love. Currently Cure has ten hospitals in places like Niger, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and Afghanistan where they provide life-changing medical care. Cure International allows you to donate one time on the behalf of a child in need, or monthly for multiple children. If you are unable to give monetarily at this time, their website provides the option to send a get-well soon card to children recovering in their hospitals and clinics. I encourage everyone to visit them at to send a card and consider donating.

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.


I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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I'm Keeping My Christmas Tree Up All Winter And There's Nothing You Can Do About It

It's the WINTER Season... ;-)


I think that my tree would not be considered Christmas-y if the ornaments are taken off and the lights are kept on. I think to just looks wintry. I am also keeping up decorations that say "let it snow", and I am keeping up any snowman without holly berries or presents in their hands.

The tree looks wintry in my opinion. It looks pretty with the lights and brings the room together. It gives off a warm ambiance, unlike that of fluorescent lighting.

I've taken all ornaments off except for gold snowflakes and I've left the silver tinsel garland on as well as the lights. It looks wintry to me still. I will probably be taking the whole tree down by the end of this month to prepare for Valentine's Day decorating. (Yes, I pretty much decorate my apartment for every holiday—sue me).

There's nothing like coming downstairs and seeing those lights sparkling.

Or coming inside from a dreary, rainy day outside and seeing them light up the room in a calm, warm, and comforting glow.

Or having a bad day, looking up, and seeing them shine.

It sort of makes me upset when I come downstairs and see that someone has unplugged them, to be honest.

I guess they don't see it as I do.

Pretty, twinkling lights forever!

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