Inspiring Stories

Sharing the Season

Christmas is for Caring

At Methodist Health System, “The Meaning of Care” is more than a tag line or motto. Every employee, from doctors and nurses to account specialists and food technicians, embodies a special kind of spirit that truly exemplifies these simple words. It’s in the friendly smiles, warm touches and cheerful embraces of each new day.
Our special series “Christmas is for Caring” hopes to inspire and illustrate how this spirit comes to life in what can seem like the most unlikely of ways.

Sharing Santa’s Spirit

With a spirit so jolly Santa himself would approve, students and employees at Nebraska Methodist College wrapped dozens of gifts last week. Each colorful package was meant for a child or family who otherwise might have little under the tree this season. It was an effort to take care of those who will soon be taking care of others.

Filling a need

“We have 76 kids we’re taking care of this year,” said Lisa Johnson, Director of Student Support Services at Nebraska Methodist College

The gifts are for children of Nebraska Methodist College Students who are part of the college’s TRIO program, a program which serves first generation and low income students. About 90 students are enrolled in the federally-funded program.

“We have students who are going through school while facing some difficult situations,” said Lisa. “Some are homeless, recovering from significant health challenges or escaping domestic violence situations. Many are parents or single parents. Providing a few Christmas presents is the least we could do.”

“I work two jobs part time and go to school full-time while trying to take care of my kids,” said one student who is a single mom with little in the way of support. “You try to make every dollar stretch. It’s a lot, but I’m so grateful for Methodist and the people I have here who are making this possible.”

On the wish list

The gifts were donated by students and staff who “adopted” families for the holidays. The families filled out wish lists that included clothing sizes and family needs. It also asked the recipients what was on their “wish list.”

“The wish list gave recipients the opportunity to share a little bit about their child and their family situation. A lot of the children and parents asked for warm clothing, coats and socks. Some families even asked for more basic things like shampoo, toothpaste, diapers and wipes. It’s been humbling for some of the staff and students to see the depth of need among their peers.”

Lisa Johnson
Director of Student Support Services, Nebraska Methodist College

Wrapped up with love

At the wrapping party, the gifts were piled high. So many boxes and bags were tied up with bows that they nearly filled a nearby study room.

“I teared up a couple of times today,” said Lisa. “It’s been so heartwarming and validating to see our students and staff respond to the need right here in our school. They’re taking care of one another in a big way and it means so much to see it all come together.”

And as for those receiving the gifts…

“They have no idea how much this means,” said a student who would be receiving them. “My kids will have a good Christmas this year. I’m so grateful to be here at Methodist. Everybody cares.”