LS: Holiday spirit is showing kindness and generosity
Holiday spirit may mean something different depending on whom you ask.
But the consensus from several local people recently asked to share their opinion was that holiday spirit is showing kindness and generosity toward others with no expectation of reward.
Holiday spirit is magnified during this season as Mesa County residents set aside time and money to donate to charities, family and friends.
However, several local residents added that selfless generosity doesn’t have to be confined to the holidays. They said they saw holiday spirit throughout 2008.
Here are their stories.
GIVING A LIFT
Sue Schore changed multiple lives when she purchased a mechanical lift for her husband earlier this year.
Six weeks before David Schore died in March, Sue bought the lift to help her ill husband move through their house.
The lift gave her husband, a well-known pianist, more dignity in the final stages of his life. He was able to sit at the kitchen table. He was able to use the bathroom.
After David Schore died, Sue donated the lift to Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado. Sue requested that the lift go to the home of a needing family.
Sue got her wish. Although she knows little about the local family using the lift, Sue was told that it was given to a woman with multiple sclerosis. The lift assists the woman in doing the simple things in life made difficult by the debilitating disease.
Sue hopes that when the family no longer needs or uses the lift, they will pass it along to someone else in need.
“The holiday spirit is exemplified by giving when no one is looking, and asking for nothing in return,” Sue said. “Holiday spirit is someone giving with no expectation of return of favor or reward. So many people exude holiday spirit year-round.”
On a recent December morning, Marilee Langfitt walked through Uniquely Yours, a store at 433 Main St. filled with handmade arts and crafts.
Many of the adult employees at the shop have developmental disabilities and are clients of Mesa Developmental Services where Marilee is director of public relations and development.
Marilee is proud of her organization’s clients, who spend their days painting, woodworking and creating handmade products they sell to benefit vocational programs for people with disabilities.
This time of year, most of the handmade items such as platters, reindeer and poinsettia planters have a holiday theme.
Earlier this month, Mesa Developmental Services clients left their work behind and took nearly $1,000 they raised through Aktion Club and shopped for toys to donate to The Salvation Army.
“The holiday spirit is exemplified by the people we serve, who for most of their lives had barriers or had little provided for them, but are so loving,” Marilee said.
Denise Gravert, a developmentally disabled adult employee of Uniquely Yours, said she made special gifts for her family this year.
When she thinks of holiday spirit, “I think of family,” Denise said.
RAISED TO GIVE
When Harold Thompson, 80, moved into his new rental home at Arbor Vista this month, he was already looking forward to cooking for others.
A fan of chicken breast with chili and maybe even a nice cake, Thompson plans to celebrate Christmas in his new home with his family.
“I might even make a turkey, or a ham,” Thompson joked.
When he was younger, Thompson taught elementary children in a rural Midwestern school. When the children needed mittens in the winter, Thompson took portions of his $210 weekly paychecks to buy the school kids mittens.
Thompson was raised on a South Dakota farm more than 100 miles from Sioux Falls. On the farm, Thompson said, people learned the value of working hard and sharing with others.
This year, he saw construction workers build him his home at Arbor Vista, a subsidized-housing complex of the Grand Junction Housing Authority.
“Holiday spirit means so much,” Thompson said. “It’s what you do for others.”
Amy Ketchum’s definition of holiday spirit is personified in Taylor Ketchum, her little girl.
“She’s our miracle baby,” Amy said.
Kevin and Amy Ketchum struggled for more than two years to get pregnant, although tests revealed both were capable of having children.
In December 2007, one month after Amy stopped keeping track of everything she did on a quest to prove she was following all the “rules” in order to get pregnant, Amy became pregnant.
But that’s not where the story ends.
Amy had a difficult pregnancy. She had continuous morning sickness and elevated blood pressure levels. She was put on bed rest.
In May, Amy was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital, and Dr. E. Lee Hardin rushed back from his Memorial Day vacation with his family to deliver Amy’s baby, who was nearly three months premature.
Taylor weighed 2 pounds at birth and was in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 13 weeks before going home.
Nearly one year after Amy discovered she was pregnant and nearly seven months after Taylor’s arrival, the family is doing well.
“(Taylor) is my holiday spirit,” said Amy, who also said the doctors and nurses at St. Mary’s deserve a load of holiday thanks for their support. “Holiday spirit is believing that miracles do come true.”
If anyone walks into the Riverside Multicultural Center and catches Juanita Trujillo without shoes on, don’t worry. She is working hard.
Juanita is the program coordinator with the Riverside Task Force and oversees the volunteer tutors and children who participate in the Riverside Educational Center Tutoring Program.
She feels more comfortable walking from room to room with her shoes off, Juanita said.
Holiday spirit, Juanita said, is about spending time with family and friends.
She is among friends at the center.
Juanita grew up in Riverside and considers working at the center an important way to stay engaged in the neighborhood.
One of her closest colleagues in the tutoring program is Linda Skinner, a program assistant and tutor.
Like Juanita, Linda believes the holiday spirit is alive among the volunteers who spend hours each week instilling a love of education to participating children. Linda sees the holiday spirit in the children as well.
“I was raised to give back to the community,” she said. “We try and get the kids to do that. As you get older, you forget the opulent presents and give more to people who need it. We couldn’t work without the volunteers, and that is the giving we love to see.”
Holiday spirit is a way of life for Kellene Mortensen.
The Grand Junction woman, along with friends, community members and people from her church put together a benefit dinner and silent auction with live entertainment for the Nye family this month.
Emilee Nye, an English teacher at Palisade High School and Kellene’s friend, learned earlier this year that her husband, Justin Nye, has terminal cancer. The couple have 2-year-old twins.
Kellene couldn’t sit back and watch her friend go through this alone. Kellene asked residents to donate time or silent auction items to help the benefit become a reality. She was impressed with the community’s generosity. The benefit dinner and auction were Dec. 8.
“Holiday spirit, to me, is remembering why we even celebrate this holiday, remembering the life of Christ, the service he rendered, and to try to pattern our life more like his,” Kellene said. “Holiday spirit can be taken throughout the year.”
In an effort to be a community servant, Kellene volunteers with a number of organizations, including tutoring with the Riverside Educational Center Tutoring Program.
Two of the students Kellene tutors, Itzel Saenz and Jordan Duffy, said they, too, have seen holiday spirit this year.
Itzel, a student at the Dual Immersion Academy, shows her tutors that she appreciates them by giving them hugs and smiles.
Jordan, a student at Scenic Elementary School, said he saw someone he knows buy an iPod for a person diagnosed with cancer.
“There are so many places to volunteer,” Kellene said. “Don’t wait for people to invite you. Find your passion and your love.”