Students trade material items for experiences, charity this holiday season


Photo courtesy of Rebecca Alexander.

Rebecca Alexander makes homemade gifts for friends and family. To the left are white chocolate macadamia nut cookies for her sister, upper right are vegan macaroons for her friend, and bottom right are diffuser bracelets she made for friends and family.

This holiday season, students are choosing to pay for experiences rather than materialistic things, while others are opting to save and give back to less fortunate people.

This year, Jane McMahon, a business administration accountancy major, said she will spend the holidays with her parents, who recently moved to France. However, before the holidays began, she and her husband have been helping victims of the Camp Fire for the past few weeks.  

“My husband and I have been helping out [our] family that has been hospitalized from the Camp Fire, as well as [our] family still struggling after hurricane Harvey last year,” McMahon said.

Photo courtesy of Jane McMahon
The town square in France, where Jane McMahon’s parents live, and where she plans to visit over the holidays.

McMahon said she and husband volunteered with the Wounded Warriors — an organization that supports injured veterans — to host Thanksgiving for a veteran mentee.

McMahon said she does not plan on giving many family members presents this year.

“The only people who will be getting gifts of any physical kind this year will be our nieces and nephews,” McMahon said.

Rebecca Alexander, a senior English major, said she’s choosing to create her gifts from scratch this holiday season.

“I usually make or bake my gifts,” Alexander said. “So basically, my friends and family get the gift and my time,” Alexander said.

Instead of cash, Alexander finds other ways to donate to those in need during the holidays. She said she has donated to her English department’s pet drive and her friend Ashley Sa-Padilla’s free yard sale.

“As far as good deeds go, I donated clothes and dog and cat supplies, but money is short right now,” Alexander said. “I think that’s a common thing for students.”

Other students are choosing to gift experiences to family members in order to create memories.

Sharlene Leighton, a business administration major, is one of those students.

“I create memories as family gifts,” Leighton said. “I create a photo book and have copies printed. My family loves looking back on the previous year family gatherings and holiday.”

Photo courtesy of Sharlene Leighton
Sharlene Leighton creates scrapbooks as gifts for her family during the holiday season.

Leighton also said she finds joy in donating while at several events, like one that her chiropractor put together.

“I did some pantry cleaning and donated to the Placer Food Bank through my chiropractor’s donation event,” Leighton said. “I’m more into giving than receiving.”

There are many locations now accepting donations for the less fortunate. These include, but aren’t limited to food pantries, Toys For Tots, American Red Cross, children’s hospitals, and thrift shops.

Shelby Mischke, also an English major, said she likes to donate or give people necessities they actually need.

“When I do gifts I try and get something that the person needs or can use that doesn’t become clutter,” Mischke said.

She said she usually gifts scarfs or bubble bath products since they are inexpensive.

“Both furbabies [dogs] had major medical issues the past few months, and money is a bit tight,” Mischke said. “I will, however, donate a few toys to the local fire department for kids in my hometown like usual.”

Brittney Delgado – The State Hornet
There are many locations now accepting donations for the less fortunate. These include, but aren’t limited to food pantries, Toys For Tots, American Red Cross, children’s hospitals, and thrift shops.