First off - and I think I would be remiss if I didn't do this - but I want to thank all of you who offered kind words towards my classes and I. I had promised all of them that this was more or less a "secret" between them and me, but after the outpouring of well-wishes I felt like I had to show them how wonderful people on the outside thought this was.
My students were pretty taken aback by the reaction of the Back Room so I wanted to let you all know that you are quite famous now in Mr. Jakam31's classes. Many of them asked who you were and when I explained that you were complete strangers they were amazed.
One student even asked, "Wow, those people actually care about this? Why?" I was at a loss for words on this one because I wasn't sure how I could put the spirit of the Back Room into a sentence or paragraph. I simply replied softly, "Because they are Notre Dame men and women and that is what Notre Dame men and women are about."
I didn't respond to anyone about this until now because I figured with everything going on in all of your lives that you were probably extremely busy and to be honest - I didn't know how to respond to what all of you said.
There are not many people within the walls of the school who know what my classes did, and that is exactly how I wanted it. However, the response from all of you and from the few people here that do know was so overwhelmingly supportive that it leaves me speechless.
I guess I just don't see it as a big deal because we were willing and able... and when you put those two things together you really can make miracles.
So as an update, it appears as if the family we are helping is going to have a terrific Christmas. The final tally was shocking - I would estimate that together we all spent well over $700 on everything that was brought in.
Michael and Matthew are getting a new Xbox 360 - and their Guitar Hero III.
They both got new tennis shoes and socks as well as new wardrobes.
The mother got new pajamas, gloves, and a couple of gift cards that should save her a lot of money in the future.
There will be stockings with candy, presents of video games and books, and enough school supplies to get both boys through high school - and possibly college if they so desire.
When the mom heard from Mrs. Potter, the guidance counselor who got me the list, how many things my kids were bringing in she cried - as did two other guidance counselors. Mrs. Potter shook her head in disbelief everytime I brought items into her office to store... then told me I had to leave the one day because we were making her cry.
You see, my students went so far above and beyond what I initially asked them to do that it makes my hands shake to type this. I know that this shaking is not a bad thing - it is simply hope, pride, and an overwhelming sense of caring pouring out of my fingers and onto my keyboard... and I thank my students for this.
They showed me what my purpose in life is and I can honestly say that I love them all for that. They are my children - good or bad. "A" student or "C" student. Stubborn or not. They are mine and that is a truly wonderful feeling.
I said when I was starting out as a teacher that I had a feeling I might learn more from my students than my students will learn from me... and they have taught me so much over the past two weeks. The hardest part for me is that I am certain I can never give them what they have given me because their aforementioned gifts of hope, pride, and that sense of caring is much more than I could ever give them.
Plus they gave me all that without even knowing they did so. They showed me the true spirit of this special time of year... even when we are in the midst of some of the worst economic conditions our country has seen in over 40 years.
Last Friday we wrapped all these gifts in my 3rd period Economics and Finance class. I brought this particular class 6 dozen donuts from Dunkin Donuts because they contributed over 800 additional items to the local homless (I know, their giving spirit knows no bounds) and this was their reward for it.
They thought it was a huge deal that I did that - I thought it was like giving them a pair of socks on Christmas morning after they bought me a Mercedes... but we ate and wrapped gifts and they enjoyed it.
So to the Back Room and the people who post here: Thank You for your kind words and support. You have no idea how much it meant to me and how many people your responses impacted. You all are truly the spirit of Notre Dame and your kindness knows no bounds.
To mkovac: The "hands of God" are in good shape - for now and in the future. My students were so unselfish and willing to help so the future for this is bright.
To my parents: Thank you for showing me how to share my numerous blessings with those who may not have that many. I could not ask for two better people to call "Mom" and "Dad." I love you both and I can't wait to be home tomorrow night.
To my students: You may never read this, but thank you so much for the gifts you have given me this year. I will keep them with me throughout my educational journey.
To Michael and Matthew: Merry Christmas - I hope you enjoy everything and that you never question the power of people helping people. It truly is a powerful thing.
Laslty, I was a little worried about my holiday season this year because it was the first time in a long time that I wouldn't have almost an entire month off and I am so far away from my parents for the first time. I wasn't sure I would be able to "get into the season."