Living their lessons: Sociology classes at Niles High School play Santa for a needy family

Published 12:18 am Friday, December 19, 2003

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- On Thursday morning, DeLane Overton's sociology class did their best impression of Santa Claus as they set out to deliver an impressive amount of Christmas gifts to one lucky family in need.
This generous act was part of a community service project in which the class participated in the Salvation Army's Adopt a Family program.
The Adopt a Family program matches families in need of Christmas gifts with sponsors who are willing to help.
This year, three of Overton's Niles High School sociology classes have sponsored three separate families in the area.
Overton has had his classes participate in this program every year since he began at Niles High School six years ago.
This year's donations were considerably larger than expected, thanks to Wal-Mart.
One day while students were shopping for their adopted family's gifts at Walmart, they were approached by Wal-Mart community relations coordinator, Mary Jane Davis.
When Davis inquired to what the class was doing, she was delighted to learn of the community service project and wanted Walmart to be involved.
Wal-Mart helped the classes by donating $500 toward the families' gifts.
Davis and Wal-Mart store manager Dennis Carlson stopped by the school on Thursday morning to present the class with the $500 check.
Each family that applies for assistance is screened and interviewed by the Salvation Army to verify their needs.
The classes were given Christmas wish lists to inform the sponsors of each family's particular needs.
Clothes and toys were the most popular gifts found on the lists.
Overton began Thursday morning's class by telling them, "You are about to do something that these families will not forget."
The class period consisted of wrapping the presents and then delivering the gifts to the family's home.