Gen Z has been labeled as a selfish and lazy generation, but at BHS we don’t have a lot of opportunities to give. The school has become a place where fewer positives are happening. If we never see giving or support in action, we won’t start.
BHS used to have a “Giving Tree” where students would grab an ornament that would suggest what to buy for the kids in need. While the students loved it, parents and adults gradually grew less fond of the idea of the tree. The tree thought to represent Christian imagery became a complaint that pushed to have the tree taken down.
Many religions use the spruce tree or branches as part of their representation, but a tree itself does not have to be specific to a religion. Mason Davis ‘24, a non-religious affiliated junior, has thoughts about our idea of the Giving Tree having another chance.
“There’s been so much divisiveness and hate at school in the last two years,” Davis said, “and having something where we can give to others is a great idea.”
People tend to think of Christmas when they see an evergreen or a spruce tree. The one BHS previously had for their Toys for Tots drive didn’t push any religious beliefs. It represented the toy drive to give to the kids that don’t get things for the holiday season. It was argued otherwise and complained about until there wasn’t a tree to have or represent the toy drive. Now all that is left are a few posters due to the controversy.
However, according to the MN Government Holiday Guidelines, secular holiday decorations are allowed in public workplaces. The Supreme Court case of Allegheny v. ACLU states that things like trees are categorized as secular decoration, which technically does allow us to put something like The Giving Tree up at school.
By this time of the year, most of us are in a routine and do the same thing every day. It can get repetitive and put people in a bad mood. When we’re little, this time of the year can be one of the most magical and memorable parts of our childhood. As we get older the magic can get lost in the stress of the school year. Bringing back the Giving Tree would put people in a cheerful mood and make people more aware of the opportunities we have to give back to our community.
Here at BHS, our Toys for Tots drive is one of the only times of the year we give, but there are very few things we are doing to reach out about it. We want more people to know about this because it is for a really good cause. It doesn’t matter what religion you are a part of and what you choose to believe in. Giving back can not only make your holiday season better but help all those children in need of something during this time of the year. The only advertisement for this is a few posters in the halls. We are so used to our routines, that putting a small poster on the wall isn’t going to do much. People walk past the posters every day and don’t care to take notice of them. The only way for it to be more known is to make a big difference in people’s daily lives and break their routines. They don’t even make any announcements about the campaign during the morning announcements. That just shows how unimportant this is to our school and says a lot about the values people have here.
In a world where culture, opinion, and beliefs are always changing it’s important to try to be inclusive and make sure everyone’s voice is heard. The easiest way for us to achieve that inclusivity is to be as neutral as possible. Using a spruce tree is simply to hold our cards of suggestions for gifts, and with the tree being big, bright, and green, it appeals to the eye. Reaching out to more people with the display of the tree helps advertise our mission. We will stray away from decorations, lights, and tree toppers to keep the religious idea out of the picture.
A survey done by www.pewreasearch.org shows that 81% of non-Christians celebrate the Christmas holiday. Although 65% of Christians say it is religious, almost all non-Christians according to the survey say it’s a “cultural” event rather than religious. Most senior citizens say it is a religious holiday. With the results, we have seen in the younger generations it has become more of a cultural meaning where we spread the cheer of winter, love, and giving.
It could be argued that Toys for Tots is a religious-based operation, but in a world that is growingly selfish, and self-centered, the goal is not to push religion to the audience. The main value of Toys for Tots is to bring joy and give to those who need it. In times where there can be little positivity and a winter gloom, something that has a positive impact on others could create a happier environment no matter what your stance on religion is. We know that giving isn’t just going to help others. We get that little burst of serotonin and feel those tingles of joy when we know that others feel good about something we voluntarily did. A study was done in 2010 by www.esu.edu relating to giving back. In a short overview of the study, giving makes us happier, especially when we freely decide so.
The importance of bringing back the tree is not about spreading religious beliefs, but rather more gift-giving and helping those in need. Along with the schedule change, they had to get rid of clubs like SCC or AAA that are student-giving services because there was no time to run those in the morning. Having a second chance for a new and improved Giving Tree would let BHS have an opportunity to give back to the community again while staying neutral based for everyone in our community. The action of giving is an important moral to both of our lives, and our hope is to have others start feeling the same and spread the joy of giving.