The holidays can be the perfect time to have some fun while helping others.
UNT lecturer Laura Keyes has offered some suggestions for fun ways to get out and help people, as well as opportunities to teach children the joy of giving during the holiday season.
"Everyone has some charity to give back to the world. The holiday season is a perfect time to do something to make a difference in our communities. Giving back helps others and reduces your own levels of stress,” she says.
Some of her suggestions for ways to give back, either alone or as a family activity, include:
- Deliver meals through Meals on Wheels or similar organizations
- Visit nursing homes to sing, play music or just chat with the residents
- Collect gifts for children in need
- Serve meals at a soup kitchen
- Make cards for patients in area hospitals
Lt. Col. Sandra Bonney, Chair of the UNT Aerospace Studies Department and commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment, offers several ways to offer support to military members, whether they are at home or abroad during the season.
- Volunteer to serve a meal at the local VFW or American Legion.
- Sponsor a Wreath for a Fallen Soldier (Wreaths across America)
- Send a Card Through Holiday Mail for Heroes
- Operation Christmas Spirit supports local military families by: “Adopting” over 100 families and fulfilling their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members and gift cards to do their own shopping; sponsor gifts and crafts at unit holiday parties; “Adopt” single Marines and Sailors, giving them gifts and gifts cards to celebrate whether near or far from their families.
- Operation Homefront offers many programs for military families throughout the year and Christmas.
- Adopt a Military Family through Soldiers’ Angels
- Donate Prepaid Calling Cards to Troops Abroad through VFW’s Operation Uplink
- Be kind. Thank a veteran.
- Call a local USO branch or area Armed Services Recruiter. They may have a local donation program list available.
- Reach out to local military hospitals where disabled vets are in recovery. There are often pre-determined donation lists consisting of things service members may need to aid in their recovery, such as blankets, gloves, DVDs, cookies and home baked goods, socks, and much more.
Keyes and Bonney are just a couple of the many faculty and staff members at UNT whose expertise is widespread and includes several aspects of holiday preparation and celebration.
- Jodi Duryea is a trained chef and a pro at creating a menu and hosting a great dinner party.
- Han Wen is a wine expert.
- Matthew Ward, chef general manager at UNT’s award-winning Mean Greens Café, the nation’s first all-vegan dining hall on a college campus, prepares delicious vegan dishes.
- Amber Duncan, a chef at Kitchen West, UNT’s new allergen-free dining hall, creates recipes free of the “Big 8” food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and shellfish.
- Andrew Klipsch, a chef at UNT’s Bruceteria, incorporates diverse holiday food in into menus, including foods that are featured in a Hogwarts Christmas Dinner as part of the holiday season. For a full list of dining hall events, click here.
- Michael Wise, History professor is one of the editors of “Food and Foodways,” which uses food to talk about broader social, economic and cultural issues. He’s an expert when it comes to American food culture, Native American food traditions and historical myths around Thanksgiving.
- Ann Marie Afflerbach teaches Principles of Nutrition and Nutrition Sciences to non-nutrition majors. She knows how to incorporate healthy eating into the holidays. She also knows a lot about the community and the social importance of food during the holidays.
- Denise Catalano, associate professor in Rehabilitation and Health Services in the College of Health and Public Service, is an expert at coping with stress and maintaining good holiday mental health.
- Lori Wolfe, program coordinator for the Texas Teratogen Information Service and certified genetic counselor, offers advice and counseling on maintaining a healthy pregnancy and protecting your baby from harmful exposures.
- Justin Watts is an assistant professor in Rehabilitation and Health Services in the College of Health and Public Service with specializations in rehabilitation counseling and addictions research.
- Erin Schafer and Lauren Mathews, both in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, have experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Mathews helps children adapt to changes in routine and parents use proactive and visual strategies to help children adapt and function during a hectic holiday season. Schafer offers families strategies for helping children with ASD adapt to noisy environments.
- Paul Goebel, director of the UNT Student Money Management Center, helps students work on managing finances and budgeting.
- Bob Wall, a lecturer in Criminal Justice, had an extensive law enforcement career before transitioning into teaching the next generation of law enforcement professionals. He is an expert at securing your home and general safety tips while shopping.
- Scott Belshaw, associate professor in Criminal Justice and director of the Cyber Forensics Lab, works to protect people while they shop.
- Linda Mihalick, senior director of the Global Digital Retailing Research Center and the Digital Retailing Program coordinator, gives great gifts that are sustainable, environmentally friendly and benefit the economy. Additionally, she knows a lot about consumer behaviors, how digital retail influences buying trends, major sales days such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and other retail topics.
- Tran Templeton, assistant professor of early childhood education in the College of Education, is brilliant at knowing which children’s presents can spark creativity, collaboration and a curiosity for learning.
- Laura Keyes, lecturer in Nonprofit Leadership in the College of Health and Public Service, is an expert regarding volunteering and philanthropy and regularly volunteers with her family.
- Lt. Col. Sandra Bonney, USAF, is the commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment at UNT. She has multiple previous deployments and extensive experience in the military.
- Brian McFarlin, co-director of the Applied Physiology Laboratory at UNT, uses his work to help people start the new year on a healthier note.
- Trent Petrie, professor of psychology and director of UNT's Center for Sport Psychology and Performance Excellence, helps others prepare mentally for setting fitness goals, improving personal performance and staying focused and motivated.
- Elijah Cumpton, Office of Spiritual Life coordinator, helps arrange the diverse holiday celebrations at UNT.
- Many of our alum have gone on to create a variety of gifts for all ages.