Elves in action: MVHS students who volunteer during the holidays

Students in clubs give back to the community during the giving season.

Sarah Young and Julia Yang

While the malls bustle with people buying presents, the radio stations blare Christmas music and lights twinkle from their perches on houses, some members of the MVHS community spend this holiday season giving back. Ohana and Octagon have partnered with local organizations to volunteer and bring holiday cheer.


MVHS financial specialist Calvin Wong describes how the volunteer clubs on campus must get their event proposals approved by the school district first before action can be taken. Clubs may choose to initiate any event, but if the organization they are working with is not already on the list of approved ones which is overseen by the district, clubs must submit a request through ASB to have the district review it. Doing so protects the students and verifies that they’re working with reputable groups.


Wong also views students taking initiative in volunteering in a positive light, and believes that when students find ways to give back to the community, they are ultimately helping not only the community but themselves as well.

Octagon club members and National Honor Society members helped out at the Muntain View Tree lighting event. There students were designated to specific event locations. Photo by Sarah Young.

“It just makes this a better place and helps serve needs that people can help meet,” Wong said, “and it does also create a passion for certain students that they find something that they really love to do, which always is a good thing.”


Sophomore Udbhav Venkataraman, a member of Ohana, sees the giving season as a time to bring joy to others.


“A lot of times, in this area especially, we try to do things if there’s a benefit to ourselves whether it’s college applications, getting into a summer program or getting into an internship,” Venkataraman said. “But this is more, it’s still kind of a selfish thing because it makes me feel good, but at the same time it makes other people feel good and that’s what [the giving season] is.”


In Ohana, during the first week of December, Venkataraman and other members invite MVHS students to holiday festivities where students can relax and make holiday-themed crafts. During one of their meetings, they made hot cocoa and snowflakes for students to take home, but Venkataraman thinks that beyond giving these kinds of gifts, simply enjoying people’s company was the most important aspect of the event.


While Venkataraman thinks that the giving season is important, he also believes that giving back to the community shouldn’t be limited to just a holiday or season; instead, it should be promoted year round. Venkataraman believes that every person is where they are in life because somebody else was willing to give, and it is their responsibility to give back.


The act of giving back to the community outside the giving season is commonly practiced by many Octagon members, particularly in an event called Breakfast with Friends which takes place every Sunday morning at the Mountain View Central Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Student volunteers will often help make and serve breakfast to those who are less fortunate. Junior and Octagon member Aditi Mukkara, who is among this group of volunteers, finds the experience very valuable.

Octagon members helped children make candy cane reindeers. Photo by Sarah Young.

“We don’t realize all the time how fortunate we are,” Mukkara said. “[But when] you help these people who are way less fortunate than you and who are so happy that they got breakfast or a toy for Christmas – it’s really eye opening.”


For Octagon officer and senior Tiffany Chen, giving back to the community means participating in events like these as well as family bonding and spending time with people Chen doesn’t normally see.


“It’s just immersing yourself with your relatives and sharing a lot of love and discussing how they’re doing,” Chen said. “Because life is short. Especially with like college coming up, I know that [I’ll] only be more busy, so for me, I’m just trying to give away as much love as possible.”


Alongside spreading holiday cheer and spending time with family, Chen thinks it’s important to promote these activities at school, especially because she believes that students typically associate school with the academic competition and stress.


“I like that so many clubs have taken this initiative,” Chen said. “I think that’s a really excellent way and I’m really glad that MVHS has so many clubs available to so many people that are dedicated towards giving back to other people [and] giving back to the community.”


This year, Chen initiated the attendance of the club at the Mountain View tree lighting event that took place on Dec. 3 and is one of the many events Octagon holds during the Christmas season. At the event, live holiday music and refreshments were provided while guests had their pictures taken with Santa; the Octagon members and some volunteers from the National Honors Society helped facilitate the event and ensure safety of the attending children.


“It’s just another way to interact with the community because we can be piled up in just extracurriculars and schoolwork,” Chen said. “And I think participating in these more festive volunteering events [is] not only fun, but you get into the Christmas spirit, and you’re helping a pretty good cause for the holidays.”


In addition to the tree lighting event, Octagon also holds events during the season such as gift-wrapping, toy drives and volunteering at homeless shelters. Mukkara, as well as the other Octagon members, find experiences like these very valuable.


“It’s a lot of fun, it’s very festive and it feels really rewarding at the end, especially in some of the events [where] you’re helping people and you see their reaction right there,” Mukkari said. “And you can’t really get that kind of happiness from doing something else.”