The signs of fall are all around us. There is a bit of a chill in the air and holiday decorations are going up in homes, businesses and across communities. With this time of year comes renewed attention on things to be thankful for and ways to help others.

At Waubonsee, service is not just a buzzword. It is one of our core values. We attempt to view the world from the perspective of those we serve in all that we do, and we strive to anticipate people’s needs and expectations while making caring and knowledgeable connections with each individual we meet.

We recently had the opportunity to put that value into practice. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, the college decided to contribute to the relief effort there. We identified a college in suburban Houston, Alvin Community College, that was impacted by the storm, and we reached out to them to see how we could help. The Waubonsee Community College Foundation established a fund, and our students, along with staff and faculty, contributed money for Alvin’s recovery. That money was sent to help them get back to the important work of serving their community. It was important for us to contribute in a way that would benefit the larger community of learners, and we did that with our friends at Alvin.

Waubonsee students, faculty and staff also serve through awareness and prevention efforts. More than 50 people participated in the Clothesline Project on all four Waubonsee Campuses, and more than 75 participated in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event on the Sugar Grove Campus. These events support awareness of the issue of sexual and domestic violence and give those impacted by such acts a safe venue for sharing their experiences. The college partnered in this effort with Mutual Ground, an organization in Aurora, Ill. Mutual Ground works to end the cycle of domestic and sexual violence across our region. This partnership amplified the impact of the service to the broader community.

We also have among us those who have served, and do serve, in places and ways beyond college campuses. In recognition of Veterans Day, we honor and thank all those who have served in the military. Those men and women serve the nation in combat as well as in our own local communities in peacetime and we thank them for that. Of note, one Waubonsee student was recently called to active duty to serve in Puerto Rico as part of military operations in support of the hurricane recovery there.

Service is part of the fabric of Waubonsee. It is not just what we do, but it is part of who we are. As we enter the holiday season, I encourage everyone to look for ways to serve others and give back. Giving happens in many forms; it does not have to be a financial donation or military service. It can be providing help to a fellow student or colleague. Or making extra time for your family and friends. Or even carving out some time for yourself. One of my favorite quotes that has particular significance this time of year is from Joseph Addison, an eighteenth-century English author: “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, something to hope for.”

As we move into the holiday season, let’s take time to contribute to the happiness of those around us. I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.