Photo by: Jessica Gallegos

November 7, 2021 / Ask Mike / Staff Fun

Holidays can be a time to give back for yearbook staffs

Written by Mike Taylor, CJE

Updated by Walsworth Yearbooks

One of my favorite memories of advising yearbook has very little to do with the actual production of the yearbook. Instead, it has to do with developing caring young adults.

I was determined to teach my students that giving a portion of themselves to the world around them is more important than constantly taking from that world.

Twice a year, my staffs would gather together to work as a team to give back to our community. We didn’t do this for headlines or acclaim, we did this to be decent human beings. I hoped I could instill acts of kindness into the group who are now doctors, teachers and other professionals living throughout the world.

Instead of giving gifts to each other during our holiday parties, we adopted a family from our local elementary school counselors. No one knew the family, nor needed to.

  • The school gave me a list of needs, which included groceries.
  • They gave us the age, gender and clothing sizes for each family member.
  • Included was a list of wishes for each family member, ranging from socks to fun gifts.

Once we had their list, my staff gathered the money, gift cards, donations and then proceeded to have a blast gathering everything we could on our lists. The editors and any staff member who wanted to go, went out one night and purchased everything. The next day, at our staff party, they wrapped all the gifts and prepared for delivery.

Our other Giving Event came during the yearly Relay for Life events held in our community. Our staff would participate and have a great time doing so. They had such a great time that Relay for Life Chairman became the second highest coveted position next to the editor-in-chief of the book.

Organization of both events was simple and took very little time. I placed students in charge. (By the way, this is a great way to see leadership potential for next year’s editor-in-chief!)

The only thing I would do is communicate with the elementary school counselors to keep the family’s personal business private.

Have a little fun during this stressful time of the year, teach your students to care and remember that a little kindness goes a long, long way.

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Mike Taylor, CJE

Mike Taylor, CJE, sees things differently, and as a journalism specialist for Walsworth, he uses that creative edge to help yearbook staffs across the country put together the yearbook they dream about. A former award-winning yearbook adviser, Mike has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion. Follow Mike on Pinterest at taylormjc.