With the season of gift buying afoot, there are many groups on campus who have decided to give something you can’t buy at the story. From visiting local orphanages to collecting toiletries for the homeless, PLNU students have shown that giving their time to others is a valuable gift.
These are just a few of the ways that PLNU is reaching out to the community to share what the holidays are all about.
San Diego Rescue Mission: Hygiene Drive
Throughout the week of Nov. 27, students from Social Work 303 and 370 ran a “hygiene drive” on caf lane. In partnership with San Diego Rescue Mission, students collected items such as disposable bed pad sheets, toddler pull ups, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, and monetary donations. Brooke Serrano, who is a junior majoring in social work, said that the two classes collected many of the items listed as well as $190 in donations.
“The overall goal of the project was to help the San Diego Rescue Mission and create something meaningful in the community,” Serrano said. “Helping others in need is important during this time, but it is also generous throughout the year and something as Christians we should always strive in participating in.”
Ministry with Mexico
On Saturday Dec. 2, Ministry with Mexico took 27 students down the road to Tijuana where they celebrated Christmas at two orphanages–Casa Hogar Belén and Eunime– that they serve throughout the year. Esteban Trujillo, Associate Director of International Ministries, said that this year they brought backpacks and school supplies to the kids and one of the student ministry leaders dressed up as Santa Claus.
“During the holiday season, I think people are in the framework of giving,” Trujillo said. “So, I think if anything, I’m really helping our students to not give just for the sense of their own personal gratification. But give out of a heart to serve and a heart to partner, which I think that’s a big thing.”
Trujillo said that this trip provides students the opportunity to give to a child in need, and have a cross cultural experience by celebrating Christmas in another country.
“One of the things I really try to emphasize is seeing our region as San Diego-Tijuana…and really just thinking about the community outside and just stretching that a little bit farther,” Trujillo said. “One of the goals is to have students think of themselves as “global citizens” and also thinking about the Body of Christ, a little bit more broadly than just our local church or our local school, and also thinking about the brothers in Christ we serve with across the border.”
Homeless Ministries: Threshold and Beacon of Light
Every week, students take time out of their schedule to serve the homeless through a variety of ministries including Threshold and Beacon of Light. PLNU students have built relationships with their homeless neighbors in downtown San Diego by sharing food prayer and words of encouragement.
On Thursday evenings, Threshold aims to break the barriers of loneliness that is often felt by people in the homeless community. As a part of their holiday giving, student leader, Sophia McFadden said that this past week when they handed out hygiene kits, many people were brought to tears out of gratitude.
“This time of year, our service is especially important, as many homeless people find themselves confronted with their lack of community and belonging,” McFadden said. “The holidays are typically a time when we celebrate family and friends, and we want to extend those blessings to our homeless neighbors.”
On Fridays, Beacon of Light ministry gives food to their homeless neighbors as a conversation starter to foster friendship. This week, student leader, Wesley Tran plans on bringing mint candies, socks and hot chocolate to pass out to their homeless friends along with the usual sandwich and coffee they’ve prepared.
“My goal this week is no different than any other week…except now is just Christmas themed,” Tran said. “I don’t think the time of the year matters whenever we’re reaching out to the homeless community. The importance of reaching out to the community comes from the willingness to serve the community. So pretty much, the only important time you should serve wouldn’t be the season, but it should be right now.”
If you would like to get involved with any of these ministries, visit the Student Ministries office on the 3rd floor of Nicholson Commons for more information.