Sterling College Student Brings Christmas to Local Family
“I thought about reading to schoolchildren for my senior seminar project, or working with athletic camps or serving at the food bank, but my heart just wasn’t in any of those things.” Lazerrick Young, senior psychology major, shared this with his fellow students during Sterling College’s chapel on December 3, 2008. “Instead I had this desire to help a family in Sterling, a family in need, by providing them with food, clothes, and toys.”
But Young faced a major problem: he didn’t know of any families in need in Sterling, he just knew that was what he wanted to do. So Young went to Jerrod Adair, his mentor and one of Sterling College’s chaplains. Adair connected him with Brennan Riffle, principal at Sterling Grade School. Riffle connected him with Kandee Eidson, a mother of two who lost both her husband and father in the past year. Did Eidson need encouragement and some help? Definitely yes.
Now that Young knew what he was doing for his senior seminar project, he pursued it as a calling. He didn’t want Eidson to feel as if she were receiving charity. He simply wanted her to know God loved her, especially through the very difficult times she was experiencing. He spoke with Kandee Eidson about this. Then Young got to work, letting the Sterling College campus know he was accepting donations and the kinds of items he was looking for. He set dates for collection at each of the residence halls on campus.
When he visited Evans, a women’s dorm, on their collection date, the residents were decorating their halls for Christmas. “I showed up,” Young shared, “and most of the girls got up and went into their rooms.” He joked, “I didn’t see how it could have been me. I’d put on cologne, even dressed up.” But the women immediately returned, their hands filled with donations. “That touched me,” Young said.
It was the same in each dorm he visited. Students in Kilbourn put down video game controllers to donate; others Young barely knew approached him in the cafeteria, the library, all over campus, giving him money and items for the Eidsons.
As Young finished telling this story to the assembled students on December 3, he said, “The success of my project was contingent on the hearts of the students at Sterling College—and it was a success.”
Then he asked Kandee Eidson and her two daughters to come onto the stage. From the rear of the auditorium a line of Sterling College students began filing down the aisle. As the line crossed in front of the stage, each student placed a wrapped package on its edge. The line of students continued up the opposite aisle, back into the auditorium lobby and then around again with another series of presents. This went on for several minutes, until the front of the stage was filled with food, clothes, and toys, specifically chosen for the Eidson family. The Sterling College student body clapped and cheered.
Young had already challenged his fellow students to dig into their pockets, but as he spoke in chapel, he also challenged them to dig into their hearts. “I grew up on the west side of Chicago,” Young told them. “It was rough. As a little kid, I was taught what to do if someone attacked me, how to defend myself.” He stopped a moment before continuing. “So you’d better know that if anyone ever pulled a weapon on me, I’d be pulling my own, shooting bullets back.” He paused again. “But you need to know what those bullets are. Because I know Jesus, my bullets are His truths.”
“Here’s one of my bullets,” Young said, “Mark 10:45, ’The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ If Jesus came to serve, then shouldn’t I do the same? Here at Sterling people like Dr. Froese are always inspiring us to be servant leaders. But without Jesus, you can’t be.”
Kandee Eidson commented later about Young's dedication to servant leadership. "When Lazerrick contacted me about this project, I was amazed that a college student would even think of doing something like this. What has amazed me even more is that Lazerrick has kept in touch even after the project has been finished. He calls me to see how we are doing."
Young's example of servant leadership has not only affected Kandee Eidson, it has also impacted his fellow students. As Young finished speaking to his quiet, attentive audience on December 3rd, he reminded them once again of the ultimate source of servant leadership: “If you don’t know Jesus, you need to.”