Do what you can to give this season
Some have been waiting days, others months, some even a full year — regardless, now the holidays are finally here. 'Tis the season to be jolly, even though this holiday season can't be as jolly for everyone.
A little driving around town, through the stores, restaurants and mall while Christmas shopping, is a constant reminder that, at least in the Yuba-Sutter area, the unemployment rate is near a staggering 20 percent. The homeless are often seen on a corner, carrying a small piece of cardboard, asking for any handout from any Good Samaritan.
Witnessing these circumstances provides many with the comfort that their situation could be much worse, thus sparking the good will out of people. Ask most people: Many have their own stories about how they've helped, or still help, the homeless.
Live Oak High School senior Laura Arellano, 17, remembered, "One time, my cousins and I went to Red Robin, and we saw a homeless guy outside and it was raining. We felt bad for the guy, so we gave him a burger."
LOHS senior Mercedez Dueñas, 17, recalled, "A guy was standing on the corner with a sign that said 'money for food.' So my dad and I went to get him food, and instead of eating it, he gave it to his dog. So now I give money, and it's not much, but at least they know that I care."
Others feel differently when confronted with the homeless, however. While some choose to give whatever they can, some have restrictions. LOHS alumnus Jessie Aguilar said, "I help them by not giving them money to spend on liquor or drugs."
Still, there are those who feel even more strongly about giving the homeless money. LOHS senior Ivonne Velasquez, 17, said, "I usually don't give in 'cause they could be out looking for jobs rather than asking for money. (But) I've helped the homeless by giving them food and drinks."
Some people are moved more when the homeless are accompanied by a faithful companion. LOHS senior Lisa Saefong, 17, said, "It's sad when I see homeless people, especially when they have their dogs with them. Ugh. It makes me sad. I always end up giving them money, anything that I would have in my wallet."
LOHS senior Navor Mendoza, 18, jokingly said he gives "Only to the ones with good signs. I remember one in particular that was not very moving or worthy of help that read, 'I'm not gonna lie ... I want beer and chips,' but it was straightforward enough, however, to give me a chuckle and feel sympathy for the nice looking old man. Had I any money I honestly would have given him some."
The bottom line is that it's the giving season, and most of us don't have to stand out in the winter cold asking for spare change. We don't have to give $100 bills or costly dinners, but any little action performed out of goodwill can make someone's day.
David Zermeño is a senior at Live Oak High School. His column appears every six weeks in Education.