Let’s show some much-warranted appreciation

| Staff Columnist

Thanksgiving and the subsequent holiday season are just around the corner, and in the chaos of midterms, papers and impending travel plans, most of us on campus are anxiously counting down the days until we can escape home. School and campus life are stressful, and I know I certainly forget at times to be grateful for all that I have, but with less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, now seems like the perfect time to appreciate the blessings most of us usually take for granted.

Living on a college campus with many student organizations surrounding us makes it relatively easy for Washington University students and faculty to demonstrate gratitude for our blessings. Campus groups focused on community service such as Give Thanks Give Back, Feed St. Louis and other Campus Y organizations are easy to become involved with. Many of us, however, overlook the simple things we can do to show our appreciation for those who serve us everyday.

Most of us who live on campus have come to take for granted this far into the school year that residential hall workers will clean up after our messes (well, not our dorm rooms—few are brave enough for that). Recently, my floor had a small mid-week study break in our common room during which we feasted on chicken wings and bread biscuits. We got our break from work, but in the process we created work for those who clean our residential building.

I wish I could say that my floor-mates and I meticulously vacuumed our crumbs and got rid of the grease stains left from our dinner food, but like most people, I left early with the excuse of “piles of work,” telling myself I would return later to check that our mess was cleaned up. I forgot, however, and only the next afternoon when I passed the common room did I see that the area was completely clean again, perhaps even more so than before our feast. Even if my friends who stayed back after the break had tidied up a bit, I am certain housekeeping had a big part in cleaning up our mess.

I certainly plan on giving back to the St. Louis community through charities such as Give Thanks Give Back this holiday season, but as I walk past the housekeeping staff in the mornings on my way to class, I have come to realize how hard and thankless their work is, and I have resolved to finally show them some of the much-deserved gratitude I feel. Leaving a small present of Thanksgiving goodies or holiday candy, along with a small note, seems a small service in comparison with having clean residence halls year-round.

Some may admittedly argue that as residents, our residential fees pay for the housekeeping services from which we benefit. The low worker wages that housekeepers receive, however, hardly compensate for the grimy work the staff does. After all, I know few mothers willing to uncomplainingly clean up an explosion of fried chicken grease and biscuit crumbs!

This holiday season, I plan to give back to those who truly deserve some appreciation because of what they do for my friends and me, and I sincerely encourage others to do the same. Giving back to those who make our residential halls clean and homey while we are away from our families is a great way to jumpstart some holiday spirit.