What is the meaning of Christmas? Some say that the Christmas season is a chance to spend time with your family and show how much you care for them. It’s a time to show generosity and be kind to others. This year, Detroit Cristo Rey students and staff got into the holiday spirit by demonstrating generosity through Secret Santa gift exchanges, a Christmas food drive and volunteer opportunities.

“The meaning of Christmas is about family, and getting together,” said sophomore Isabel Lopez.

For many families, this includes traditions, such as building a gingerbread house or making eggnog. This year, the sophomore class took part in a new tradition of a Secret Santa gift exchange, in which participants are randomly assigned a person to whom they give a gift.

The gift exchange was organized by Mrs. Karla Gudino, math teacher at Cristo Rey and leader of the sophomore grade level team.

“What inspired me to do this event for the sophomore class was the meaning of Christmas and finding a way to get the sophomore class to socialize,” said Gudino.

1220_cristorey_christmas_1

Cristo Rey students bring in canned goods and cash donations during the Christmas food drive.

1220_cristorey_christmas_2

Sophomores Noemi Miramontes and Maricarmen Zamora-Martinez help children decorate Christmas cookies at the National Arab American Museum Christmas party.

The gift exchange was optional and some students chose not to partake. Lopez, who participated, believes these classmates missed out on a great opportunity.

“I would encourage other pupils to take part in this,” said Lopez. “They get to enjoy something nice with their friends at a school event and get a little enjoyment in school. The important thing about an event like this is not about the gift or the money, but the loving memories you made and keep forever in your heart.”

The generosity of Cristo Rey students extended outside of the school during the annual Christmas food drive. Throughout the month of December, students and faculty brought in canned goods and money to purchase gifts for several families in need. By mid-December, they had raised over $1,000 and continued to take collections.

Several students and staff members continued to spread generosity by volunteering at the Arab American National Museum’s annual Christmas party. Cristo Rey students helped children from Dearborn decorate Christmas cookies and make crafts, such as pipe cleaner wreaths and candy canes, paper snowflakes and letters to Santa Claus.

Luke Miller, campus minister for Cristo Rey organized both the Christmas food drive and volunteer opportunity at the museum. He believes that as a Catholic school, Cristo Rey has a unique opportunity to search for the true meaning of Christmas.

He described Advent as “a time for us to reflect and to look at how we are bringing about heaven on earth.”

“These opportunities of service help us center ourselves in that mindset of service,” Miller said. “This time of year really is much more than just presents and cookies and Santa Claus."