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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

The Givers

By Jorden Demerritte
Staff Writer

The holiday spirit is in the air, fluttering lightly and encouraging hearts and minds to open up to the generosity that is dear to many who help out those in need during this time of COVID. Givers especially find this a perfect time to fufill their desire to share more.

Alexandra Laricchia, the community relations manager of Camillus House, works directly with the clients (as she calls the residents of Camillus House) and the volunteers. She acknowledges though this is not exclusive to this time of year, that holidays are a pivotal time for the clients to feel seen and appreciated.

“It’s been chaos and uncertainty the whole year, and it’s so important for them to feel that at least some things are remaining as normal as they can be,” Laricchia said. Preserving normalcy and preserving a time of year that derives its magic from the generosity of others is so necessary for this time.

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Laricchia believes that “something small[…] goes a long way in helping people feel the holiday spirit.” This spirit that the staff and volunteers try to culture daily “is all about sharing, it’s about being around the people who care about you, it’s about giving,”

Laricchia and the Camillus House team ensures that the spirit of joy carries on through the physical environment, having “lots of decorations, lots of lights” and “different activities on campus with our clients,” Laricchia said.

The holiday spirit reflects in the decorations, which amplify the joy and care encouraged during the holidays. (Photo courtesy of Alexandra Laricchia, edited by Jorden Demerritte).

The spirit of generosity has been expressed largely with the community holding ground in their desire to be givers through the support of the Camillus House aspirations.

“Every year we ensure through different partnerships that every kid has at least one toy,” Laricchia said. These kids are from South Dade families in “permanent supportive housing models.”

“This year, that proved to be a little difficult because… we’ve more than tripled the children that we serve in that program and like their families. We tripled the number and we did not originally have the same community partners that we do to help us to make that possible for providing one toy per kid, but somehow our community really stepped up, and they’re giving us a chance to do that this year. I think some of the kids will end up with two toys.”

“It’s a time of year when most people come together to help us fulfill that mission, that mission of giving, that mission of hospitality and compassion. It’s a perfect time to do so, it’s a great time to show your children, for example, what it is to be compassionate, what it is to share with others that might not have the same… and share with their community,” Laricchia said. “A lot of people are giving away their time, talent, and treasures, again to help us meet a lot of needs. It means donating time by volunteering, volunteering donations, helping us give Christmas gifts to our adult clients, toys to the children.”

Giving is what makes holidays year-round so memorable, some people have put in their continuous work and bring smiles to those in need and those around them. Those that deserve their utmost credit are the volunteers of Camillus House. “Day-in and day-out, who haven’t stopped even during this crazy year, they continue to be there and do it with the same smile on their face that they did a year ago or two years ago… And they continue to do it, even when some of them are facing the same issues as everybody else is, it’s really wonderful to see,” Laricchia said.

An attitude that keeps the staff afloat throughout this demanding and fulfilling time is to “do good for yourself, by doing good for others,” Laricchia said.

“We tend to get so involved in our own issues and what’s going on externally, and really if we just stop and decide to look at the person next to us and realize that we can do something that can help them, that really can put everything into perspective, and it really does help you as well because not only are you doing something amazing for somebody else, but you actually feel better about yourself, about everything going on around you when you just give of yourself — whatever that is whether its time, a gift, or your time, whatever it is I strongly believe that quote is very true,” Laricchia said.

At the heart of the holidays, as it each year, is the generosity — the collective giving of oneself and all.

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