Spread the holiday joy by helping the community


Courtesy of Lily Kreinder

Lily Kriendler and her friends made cookies for the nonprofit organization Small Things Matter through their Kokua Foods Program.

By Jordan Pashkoff, Arts Editor

The holidays are a time to celebrate, relax, get together with family and friends, and most importantly, to give back to the community. Volunteering and making donations can largely impact the lives of many- especially during the holidays. 

Baking and cooking are two of the most common ways to volunteer during the holidays, and among the easiest ways to help the community while having fun. Teenagers commonly get together with their friends or other groups to connect within a shared interest: giving back to the community in which they live. Volunteering is especially prevalent among students at WCHS and the holidays get students even more in the mood to give back. 

“I like volunteering around the holidays because it gives me an opportunity to give back during a time that may be hard for some families,” WCHS junior Lily Kriendler said. “Doing one small act of kindness like running a cookie competition could make someone’s holiday a little more hopeful and spirited.”

Kriendler, and the youth group Whecty, got together for a cookie and card decorating competition on Nov. 16 to benefit the nonprofit Small Things Matter for Thanksgiving. Students were put into teams and asked to make the best cookie using fun toppings within a timeframe. While the cookies were baking, the second part of the program commenced and everyone decorated holiday and Thanksgiving cards for Washington Hebrew Congregation’s Winter Warmth program. 

“Having all the members of the group come together through competition and through helping the community was so much fun,” Kriendler said. “By getting everyone involved and excited by making the volunteering a competition, we were able to donate multiple platters of cookies and dozens of cards.”

The donated cookies went to Small Things Matter’s Kokua Program. This program provides meals for over 1000 food-insecure families throughout Md. The food gets donated to shelters like Casa Ruby, apartment complexes, the Montgomery County Food Security Task Force, and more. 

As well as individual students, WCHS clubs are also doing their part to give back during the holiday season including the Do Something club. This club works to raise awareness and inspire activism for a range of social justice issues and important policy initiatives. This includes the Black Lives Matter movement, donating period products to support menstrual equity, repurposing clothing for people experiencing homelessness and leading informative campaigns about mental health, education, and the environment. Now the Do Something club is volunteering around the community during the holidays. 

“I wanted to make a difference within the community and by doing a program with my club, I am able to connect many different WCHS to volunteering,” WCHS junior Sloane Levy, the president of the Do Something Club, said. “During this holiday season, the Do Something club is making homemade meals for the domestic violence shelter, Stepping Stones.” 

Started in 1982, Stepping Stones Shelter provides many services including permanent and supporting housing, case management services, employment counselors, tutoring for school and GEDs and post shelter support. It is located in the historic Dawson farmhouse in Rockville, MD. By making homemade meals for the Stepping Stones Shelter, the Do Something Club and its members are making a difference in the lives of many families during the holiday season. 

“Volunteering is so important because we can give back to our community especially during the holiday season,” Levy said. “Volunteering is incredibly important because the holidays are a time for giving back and celebrating what we have.”

Volunteering around the holidays has many different forms and is a great way to earn SSL hours while doing good within the community. The Montgomery County Volunteer website is filled with resources and sign-ups for different holiday-related volunteering opportunities. Toys for Tots distribution, participating in holiday food drives, packaging gifts for children in need, and creating holiday cards are only a few of the listed opportunities to volunteer. To learn more about ways to get involved in holiday volunteering around Montgomery County, go to https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/volunteercenter/.

This time of year is especially focused on giving and receiving gifts making it even more the reason to give back to those who are less fortunate. Just by volunteering an hour of time, the volunteer could be making a huge difference in the lives of other people around their community. . Also, while volunteering directly benefits the individual in need, it can be incredibly gratifying for the one doing the volunteering. Regardless of what the volunteer activity looks like, volunteering during the winter holidays is one of the most rewarding experiences and ways to add more cheer and jolly to your surrounding community. 

“Volunteering is something that I think everyone should do outside of the holiday season, but the surge in volunteering during this time is astronomical and incredibly beneficial to the community,” Kriendler said. “It is something that every student should get involved in.”