For many, Dec. 23 is a day to finish last-minute holiday shopping and finish wrapping gifts to place under the tree. For the Roske family, they took the day to give back to the community.
Giving back to the community is something that was instilled in the Roske family. Parents Michael and Peggy have volunteered at their church – St. John the Baptist in Collegeville – and wherever there has been a need. As adults, their children, Michaela, Ben, Molly and J.J., have continued finding ways to give back no matter where they have lived.
“We think it’s important that everybody – not just our children – know they have to look out for others,” Peggy said. “Everybody has needs and those needs need to be met.”
This year when everyone was home for Christmas, instead of gifts to each other, the Roske family decided to give the gift of each other. Michaela, who is a faithful Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity volunteer and recent board member, naturally recommended her family volunteer at CMHFH’s ReStore.
“We were raised with a strong sense of community,” Ben said. “We were raised in the St. Cloud area and have now come back here to celebrate Christmas. We feel it’s a way to give back. We want to contribute to the community.”
J.J. added, “The holiday season is about being with family and celebrating what you have. And a lot of people don’t have, so I think the opportunity to give back to the community, in whatever minuscule way, can help.”
In addition to Michael and Peggy’s four children, Ben’s wife Ellory and Michaela’s friend Jameson also volunteered at ReStore on Dec. 23.
“There’s always been a really strong social justice focus in our family,” said Molly. “I would say that carries through in what all of us do in our daily lives. Michaela’s involvement in Habitat has been growing the past several years so this is the first year we finally put into action this idea we’ve had for the past few years of ‘let’s volunteer together as a family for Christmas instead and give the gift of each other.’ So when that surfaced again this year, the answer was obvious that we should do something with Habitat because of Michaela’s role and involvement here.”
For Ben, part of the appeal of volunteering also meant getting to know the regular ReStore volunteers and assisting the customers. Plus, he enjoyed the “good, hard work and labor.” Ben and J.J. moved and organized boxes of tiling and helped carry out customer’s furniture purchases.
Dec. 23 was also one of the first times the whole family volunteered together as a family. The family has found individual ways to give back in other ways but really enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer side-by-side.
“It’s fun to get back together and see each other’s skills,” said Molly, noting that through everyone’s individual volunteer opportunities, they have picked up new skills and stories about how they gained those skills.
“(Volunteering together) teaches us about each other and we can see different sides of each other,” said Ellory. “Sometimes it feels like there are a lot of bad things going on in the world and it’s nice to do something that directly impacts and improves our community.”
Giving back is just part of being part of a community, Peggy said. “You gotta help each other out and do what you can do.”