Tuesday, December 1, 2015

YAC, Family Volunteering and Professor Carol

What is YAC/YLOKCasady doing this month?

1. Hope for the Holidays Infant Crisis Services Drive:  Our Lower and Primary Division students are ICS Hope for the Holiday donors for the next two weeks.  Lower Division is collecting diapers, baby formula, etc. this week and Primary Division students will be donating next week.  This project is being facilitated by freshman, Katherine S.  This is the project she connected to lead as part of her independent study class, Classroom with a Cause.

2. At YAC meetings, we have been decorating placemats for Children's Hospital to brighten a bit hospital meals.  YAC also continues to make pinwheels for Syrian Refugee Children.  Each pinwheel will receive $2, up to $400,000 from the Bezos Foundation to provide educational and mental health services through the International Rescue Team.  This is part of YAC's Students Rebuild Challenge

3. The YAC seniors are having a blood drive next week with the goal of screening 50-70 people and getting at least 35 donors. The blood bank will be taking donations at the Cochran Library from 7:30-11:30 on Thursday, December 10th.

4. Our citywide Youth LEAD Council is collecting gently worn clothing for Metro Career Academy, a service-learning school that enables trouble teens to stay in school by providing all the resources they need including food and clothing.

5. YAC members of the art club are making Xmas stockings for Britton Elementary first graders.  The stockings will be delivered before the holiday break filled with art supplies for the children to have an opportunity to create art during their break.

Volunteer with your Family to Build Empathy and Understanding
Did you know that volunteering teaches children valuable, real-life lessons about compassion and caring? Volunteering also can be a great way for kids to develop skills, learn more about their community and make friends.

With the holiday season approaching, take time now to plan a volunteering experience with your family. And read these nice stories of families serving in their communities together.
  • The Yamaato family - “…The experiential part is really important,” says mom, Joyce Yamaato. “Taking a concept and giving it some practical aspects really drives their desire to help.” And, she adds, it can show kids they have the power to make changes.”Read more of the Yamaato’s story here.
  • The Chung family - “I’ve been amazed at the smiles of people when a little kid hands them a can of peas,” he says. “We’ve found that kids are so capable, and if we’re able to encourage them toward volunteerism, it’s a really wonderful thing.” Read more of the Chung’s story here.
  • The Sjolseth family - “It’s not big acts of service that changes kids,” says Sheila Sjolseth. “It’s the small daily repetitive actions, that 20 minutes a day where we all think about something else other than ourselves.” Read more of the Sjolseth’s story here.

Advent Day 3: Fasting

By Professor Carol on Dec 01, 2015 04:00 am
Still_life88_second (CC BY-NC-2.0)
What could be more out-of-tune with today’s culture than fasting in December? For one, we’d have to shut down the cooking shows that dominate TV. For another, we’d have to clear the shelves of Christmas sweets that fill the shelves beginning in mid-November.
Can you imagine a time when decorations were lit and the candy came out only after Christmas Eve services ended? Yet, that’s when the Advent fast ends and the Feast of Christmas begins. That’s when, traditionally, the church hall or front parlor would be filled with light, the platters of gingerbread and peppermints would be laid, and the Christmas tree would be set ablaze with candles (sometimes literally, but that’s a different issue!).
For centuries the Christian liturgical cycles of feasting and fasting determined people’s diets and the social scene as well. Fasting even set the pattern for the artistic cycle. Theaters and opera houses were closed during the major fasting seasons, particularly the Great Lenten Fast that precedes Easter. Back when opera was the equivalent of today’s movies, creative and performing artists lived by these patterns. New operas and plays were scheduled in seasons not affected by fasting, so the seasons for festivities and social balls ran September through November, and early in the new year until Lent began. After Easter, the theatrical season would return and extend until the summer’s heat caused all theaters to close.
Beginning in the mid-17th century, a still new Italian musical form called the Oratorio began expanding to fill the public demand for musical entertainment during the Lenten fast. Oratorios were big compositions for soloists, choir, and orchestra. In very dramatic ways, they told Biblical stories or the lives of Saints, but they were not staged and therefore allowed during Lent. They soon outgrew their late-Renaissance origin as supplemental music during evening prayer services to become a source of commercial income for composers and poets. Even though the singers did not act or wear costumes, oratorios were still exciting to hear. And they kept many singers and instrumentalists employed during long fasting seasons.
But modern people hearing the word “fast” certainly do not think of a musical-dramatic work. They think of food, or, more precisely, the lack of it. They think of “giving up” something for a period of time, or following the detailed rules of fasting in stricter forms of Christian practice.
Can the concept of fasting have a role to play in your celebration of Advent? Well, clearly that becomes an individual matter.
But, for starters, introduce the idea that Advent is a period of fasting and see if it sparks a family discussion. Your kids will likely realize that the reflective and penitential spirit of fasting, whether symbolic or actual, lies in direct opposition to the commercial trends of today’s Christmas. Ask them to compare fasting to the phenomenon known as Black Friday. Our children are growing up with pictures of people tearing items out of each other’s hands to obtain a “bargain.” Or trampling shopkeepers to death by crowds to save 30% on a TV. The media plant a fear that we will miss something beneficial if we don’t participate.
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if that same media broadcast Advent as a time to renew the spirit and fulfill the soul? Not with “things” and bargains, but by restraint and sacrifice for others. What if the Salvation Army kettle got a tenth of the media coverage as the Early Bird Special? Not likely, you say?
I agree. So, the answer lies with the family. After we explain that Advent was and is a season of fasting, we can decide ways where simplicity, restraint, and anticipation can be a benefit. You may wish to institute aspects of traditional fasting into your family’s meal plans. You may decide to delay seeing a holiday film or attending an ice-spectacle until after Christmas Day.
In our family, we decided to wait on decorating the Christmas tree. A simple thing met initially with resistance, it had many benefits. We visited our local tree farm on the 23rd (at which point we got a wonderful price and all the free garland we could cart away). The lights were strung that evening, but we’d finish decorating the morning of the 24th. We would plan to light the tree only after returning from Christmas Eve services, but sometimes we didn’t make it quite that long.
Still, the anticipation for the tree built nicely over the weeks of Advent. And we certainly weren’t ready to toss it out the day after Christmas. Instead, the tree shone in glory through the full Twelve Days of Christmas until Epiphany.
Now this might not work for your family. Some people have the tradition, for instance, of gathering with extended family for a series of “Christmas dinners” during the weeks of Advent. But perhaps you can let the Advent wreath remain the centerpiece, and listen as your kids explain to Aunt Rebecca why the Christmas Tree isn’t up yet. Or maybe your kids can suggest ways institute the idea of fasting into your family’s rhythm.
No matter what, an awareness of Advent as a season of fasting will make the celebration of Christmas all the sweeter.