As the Advent season rolls around, the philanthropic side of humanity begins to emerge. This sentiment is no different at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, for this is when the school begins the Christmas Common Basket, formerly known as the Christmas Basket Project.
The concept of giving to those in our own community is not revolutionary. “This tradition goes back to our Lasallian roots. We’ve been doing this project [at BSM] for 35 years,” said Mrs. Mary Beth Liekhus, one of the supervisors of the project.
The families receiving these baskets from the senior high are referred by people who have close relationships with Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and most attend St. Philips Church in Minneapolis. “Sometimes families are referred late, but I never say no. The Parent Association wants to adopt a family, and some individuals have one as well,” said Mrs. Liekhus.
In conjunction with the senior high, the junior high raises money for St. Philips Kids Club, which is run by BSM alumna Emily Burt-McGregor. “They raised money to buy a Wii with some educational games, and juice and candy for the after-school program,” said Mrs. Liekhus. The after-school program is held three nights a week, where kids 6-12 can go to play games, get homework help and eat a hot meal, and high-schoolers can get help with the college process.
Giving is important, especially during this time of year. “We never know who’s going to need help in today’s society,” said Ms. Shannon Shaffer, who is one of the contacts for this project at St. Philips. “It’s a reflection of our generosity. We always give our time, but now kids come forward with their treasure as well. It’s not often that you get to be the answer to someone’s prayers,” said Ms. Liekhus.
Dr. Bob Tift, BSM president, couldn’t agree more with what this project actually does for people. “Our history says that we serve those in need. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach students philanthropy and giving from the heart,” said Dr. Tift.
Christmas isn’t about commercialization, it’s about the true spirit of giving. “Seeing the impact we have on these families is what it’s really all about,” said Dr. Tift. “It’s a gift to see the reactions when we deliver these baskets, so who really gets more?” said Ms. Shaffer.