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"Adopt" Someone For The Holidays
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Thad and Judy Buck, an attorney and a housewife from West Point, give the gift of hospitality to people from all over the world, and in return, the value of kindness is instilled in those they touch.
The Bucks, who live about 25 miles from Mississippi State University, open their home throughout the year to international students who attend MSU.
"So many international students never walk into an American home. They appreciate any attention we give them and any friendship we offer them. Most of them are away from family and do not know much about American traditions and culture," Judy said.
The Bucks spend Thanksgiving with international students at a retreat center near Meridian, give Christmas parties in their home for their international friends and invite some of them to stay a few days.
"We've had individuals spend the night at Christmas. They're students with no family, and they'll spend a few nights to get away from campus," Judy said.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with MSU's Extension Service, said showing acts of kindness, such as opening one's home to international students during the holidays, helps families cope with changes and teaches children that people are important.
"Families that learn how to cope with challenges and meet individual needs are more resilient to stress and crisis. Healthy families solve problems with cooperation, creative brainstorming and openness to others," Davis said.
Teaching children to show kindness creates a sense of community for them.
"Children need to know what community is, and spending the holidays with those who are alone is a great way to develop community ties. It models important values to children that will be carried throughout their adult lives," Davis said.
This type of outreach teaches children to be respectful of others, their values and their different cultures. It also teaches children to be nurturing to others.
Besides "adopting" an international student, people can give to others by sponsoring a child without parents or family.
Palmer Home, an orphanage in Columbus, has a program for couples to make a long-term commitment to a child once a month and during the holidays.
Robert Crankshaw, director of counseling at Palmer Home, said the sponsor program allows children to be around a stable family and provides individual attention for each child to make him or her feel special. Children also get to do things with their sponsor families that Palmer Home cannot provide, such as taking vacations.
"We also have prayer sponsors and financial sponsors for children. This allows people who live too far away to visit, to pray for a certain child or send money for special things such as back-to-school clothes and expenses for school field trips," Crankshaw said.
In addition to opening one's home to international students or sponsoring a child, many Mississippians take part in service programs for those with special needs.
Community Stew Pot in Jackson has several services to help the poor, the elderly and the disabled such as year-round lunches for anyone, Meals-on-Wheels, a food pantry and shelters for men, women and children.
An after-school program for 4 years-olds to 12th graders provides these children and youth tutors, fields trips and Christmas presents.
A program for senior citizens and people with disabilities offers them activities such poetry workshops and bingo. The senior citizens run a clothes closet, which gives clothes throughout the year to anyone with needs.
People can donate food and clothes to Community Stew Pot, and buy gifts for a family they have adopted for the holidays.
Davis said serving others allows people to take responsibility for caring for those in need.
"Holidays are good times to give to others, but we should teach children and other family members to show kindness on a daily basis, not just at seasonal times of the year," Davis said.