Presence over Presents

Anyone else finding the holidays a wee bit stressful? Between extra socializing, baking, gift buying, travel, etc. Do you feel rushed and not giving everyone as much time and attention as you’d like? I sure do! I ended up getting a little more stressed this holiday season than I meant to, but I did make sure to focus my energies on something that would help others. Instead of making gift buying a priority (I did buy some gifts – don’t get me wrong!), I let family and friends know that I would be spending the majority of my time volunteering at a local organization.

I volunteer all year round at Sunnyvale Community Services. I head in Mondays mornings to help distribute produce to families in need. It’s one of the many awesome programs they run for the community.


And every year in December, they have a Christmas Centre. Regular operations are shut down to set up a shop of sorts where families can come through and pick out gifts for their families. They get food, gifts and clothing for children and a household item.




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I volunteered last year helping families go through the centre to pick out their gifts and food. This year I decided to help out as a team lead and was placed in the toy room. It was really fun =) It was a little more work than I thought it would be, but it was nice to help. We packaged toys to give out to the kiddos. There were a ton of people helping out who ended up “working” over 1000 hours altogether to make open the centre. We saw over 600 families go through and were able to help countless people.

As a child, I was very lucky. My parents could always provide a wonderful Christmas for my sister and I. Lots of presents!! I grew up without really realizing there were other families who couldn’t afford this. It’s a truly humbling experience helping people. All of the families I met were incredibly grateful and some told me that without us, they wouldn’t have anything to give at all.

Instead of spending a lot of money on gifts, I spent a lot of time helping. We also decided to donate money to great organizations. In addition to making some sweets for friends, I bought some items off of a Giving Tree at my local pet store. I bought some great things for some rescue animals. In return, I got a picture of the animal to give to someone as a gift =)

Here is a picture of me and my Toy Team:


Do you feel like the holidays change for you as you get older? I still love them so much, but appreciate them so much more.

12 thoughts on “Presence over Presents

  1. Hang on a minute. You say you live in the area that Buffy was meant to be set and that community centre is in Sunnyvale, which is one letter away from Sunnydale… are you sure that there isn’t a Hellmouth there somewhere?

    But on a more serious note, what a wonderful thing to be doing. I have always been lucky to have a nice Christmas growing up with lots of presents and food and people. It is nice to be able to help other families have a special time of year as well.

    1. Ahahaha. YES! I think I live in the fictionally set town that Buffy lived in. There must be a Hellmouth nearby, I must have missed it ;p
      I was lucky enough growing up that way too – I just want everyone to be able to do that =)

  2. What a fantastic project to be involved in. As I’ve got older, I’ve definitely valued ‘experiences’ and time with people I care about over presents. It seems an odd time of year sometimes with so much spending and consuming, but then for some families / people not enough to put a meal on the table. I’m impressed by your volunteering efforts.

    1. Thank you Kari =) I really enjoy helping others and I’m lucky enough to have found a big group of people that like doing it as well. I think experiences get more precious as we get older.

  3. We give presents but I was thinking how much else is given at christmas time. At the place where I volunteer, we had a christmas party for the residents of an aged car home and that was quite satisfying. I am also trying to do some home made gifts esp for the older relatives who don’t need much.

    1. Oh I still give presents too. I give them to my mom and niece, but no one else really. And you have a little one – the little ones love them so much =)
      Home made gifts are the best!!

  4. That is so great how much you’re giving back to your community! I’m sure the families really appreciate all the work your group does. (I love your sweater too!)

    I’ve been trying to cut out most of my present giving this year. It’s so stressful and really takes away from the enjoyment of the season. I’d rather spend time with loved ones than spend money on presents that they probably don’t even need.

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