Welcome to the Phoenix Five, a regular editorial column emphasizing community service in and around the Aviation High School Community. Every issue this year, we will challenge you to give your Phoenix Five – donate five cans of food, give five dollars to a good cause, spend five minutes educating yourself or learning about your community… You get the point. The Phoenix Five is our way of saying, “get off your butt and do something useful,” and we mean that in the best way possible.
So without further ado, this Thanksgiving, the Phoenix Five challenges you to choose one of these five ways to give back, and then do it.
1. Be Aware
In a school that encourages professional attire, and has more technology than you can shake a stick at, it can be hard to tell whether someone is going home to a comfortable house, or doesn’t know if the heat will be on when they get home. But make no mistake, not every AHS student lives in the same situation. In fact, 20% of students get free or reduced lunch. It may not seem like much, but think about it this way: one in five of your classmates—your friends—get free and reduced lunch. If that’s not close to home, nothing is.
So while you enjoy Thanksgiving with your family, take five minutes to remember that you really do have a great deal to be thankful for.
As the weather gets colder, sleeping on the streets not only becomes harder, it becomes impossible. This means homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and food banks are busier than ever. When more people go to these programs for help, programs need more volunteers to keep up with the demand. Why should you be one of these volunteers? Because you can make another person’s life better. Community service hours aren’t just an arbitrary graduation requirement, they’re supposed to encourage students to get in the habit of giving back to their community.
Volunteer programs are easy to find at AHS, try Interact Club or National Honors Society. Once you find one, dedicate five hours of your Thanksgiving break to volunteering.
3. Donate Food and Clothes
Don’t have the time to volunteer? That’s okay, there are other ways to give back. Giving food is a good place to start. After all, food banks have to get the food from somewhere, and a little goes a long way. A small donation can help a family in a way that matters. What’s the difference to you? Five dollars? Five minutes to drive to the food bank? Your donation (we recommend five nonperishable items) is a much bigger deal than it might seem on the surface.
Another donation that can help a family through the cold season is warm clothes. Think of it as helping someone less fortunate than you not freeze. Or, if that doesn’t do it for you, think of it as cleaning out your closet to make room for next month’s incoming presents–your call.
4. Share Your Black Friday Cash
Look, it’s not like we’re asking you to not celebrate the holidays. You should still enjoy your Thanksgiving, and go shopping on Black Friday, provided that you spend some money on helping others as well. To be specific, we propose that you take 5% of the money you were going to shop with, and use it to give back to the less fortunate instead. It’s like this: If you can spend $100 on Black Friday sales at the mall, then you can give $5 to a homeless shelter.
You don’t need to spend extra money, or skip out on holiday traditions to help. You just need to take some time to think about what would be a better use of the money you were already going to spend.
5. Keep Giving
After the holidays are done, the homeless don’t stop being homeless, and people living on food stamps can’t suddenly afford five star restaurants. Similarly, the Grinch’s heart doesn’t shrink back down two sizes after Christmas, and you shouldn’t stop helping the less fortunate just because it’s no longer Thanksgiving. Being appreciative for what you have is not a quality of a season, it’s a quality of good character.