For most people, family traditions are an important part of what makes the holiday season so special, but for some—including a number of CJ families—an important holiday tradition is making those in need feel as though they are a part of a family.
Upon learning that residents at a local nursing home rarely received visitors during the holidays, CJ sophomore Patrick Raiff decided it was his chance to make a difference. Inspired by hospital visits to see his grandmother who would ask for socks to warm her chilled feet, Patrick petitioned his parents Mike and Mary to ask friends and family to donate gifts at the annual Raiff family Christmas party for the nearly 70 forgotten seniors at the Maria-Joseph Center Nursing Home.
“It was truly something special,” said Mike, a 1979 CJ alumnus. About 40 to 50 families filled gift baskets with socks, robes, blankets, slippers, and lotion. The Raiff’s wrapped the donated presents and, along with a group of fellow members of the CJ community, delivered them on December 23.
“As we walked down the halls we sang Christmas carols,” freshman Lyle Plummer explained. The group spent about an hour meeting and visiting with residents.
“I’m used to always getting something, but it is a whole different feeling giving something to someone else and seeing the joy in their face.”
Freshman classmate Matt Dudon said he was touched by the overwhelming response the group received for what he considered to be a small gesture of kindness.
“I’d want someone to visit me if I were in a retirement community,” Patrick said of his motivation to help others. Although noted on their report cards, the hours did not count towards the students’ first semester service requirement.
The requirements are part of religion classes and challenge students to complete a different service component at each grade level. Freshman must complete one hour per semester, sophomores must complete 100 minutes per quarter, juniors must complete 25 hours throughout the school year, and seniors participate in a class-wide service project.
During the first semester of the 2010-11 school year, students volunteered 6,833 hours of community service. In addition, in honor of the school’s 160/125 Anniversary Celebration, the CJ community has dedicated nearly 700 service hours.