Time and time again we hear stories explaining “the true meaning of Christmas” and the spreading of “the Christmas Spirit.” Many different groups around the world invite others to understand what this Christmas season is really about, including my own, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Four years ago, the church announced a new program called “Light the World” to serve as a reminder that Jesus Christ was described this way in John 8:12. The 2019 version of the initiative is called “Light the World: One by One” and is focused on serving others through simple acts of kindness as the savior once did.

This year’s effort started on the first day of December, and has involved many ways for participants to contribute. The program’s website, LighttheWorld.org, provides a calendar and text message alert system that provides ideas for service each day.

One of the most popular parts of the Light the World initiative is a donation resource called the Giving Machine. Somewhat similar to a vending machine, this contraption offers donation cards that people can “purchase.” Buying these cards can provide enough money for 100 meals at a local food bank or homeless shelter, school textbooks for an orphan, or even a goat in a Third World country. As of Dec. 12, people had already donated more than $2.25 million at the 10 machines that are available in London, the Phillippines and eight cities throughout the U.S.

The Light of the World program also invites members to invite a friend to attend a special Christmas Sunday service today on Dec. 22.

These past few weeks I have participated in this effort to serve others daily, and I’ve greatly enjoyed receiving ideas on how to better show my gratitude and kindness to the world around me. The calendar and the alert system include a wide variety of simple acts of service, such as sending a text of appreciation or doing a random act of kindness for a family member.

One day after school I noticed one of my teachers having a rough day. My thoughts turned to that day’s service idea, which was to write an anonymous thank you note to a teacher or other leader. As I placed a sticky note on the teacher’s door handle and headed home that day, my heart was content knowing that I might have made someone’s day a little better.

Through my own experience of service, I have loved seeing the cheerful smiles and receiving sincere responses of “Thank you.” There is no greater joy than expressing love and care for someone you know.

Overall, the Light the World program is a huge opportunity to be reminded of the “true meaning of Christmas,” which is in the name itself: Christ. The service and donations made throughout this time represent the actions that Jesus Christ would have made today, and are a reminder to give the same love he gives us.

David Grigg is a senior at Zillah High School.