Niles Service League delivers presents Sunday to 10 local families

NILES — This holiday season, Merrilly Nicolazzi, a Niles Service League treasurer, got to help keep the magic of Santa Claus alive for a 5-year-old boy.

Concealing a pile of presents in a black trash bag, Nicolazzi joined dozens of other volunteers in delivering gifts Sunday to families that were adopted through the Niles Service League’s Christmas Families program.

This year, the nonprofit was able to sponsor 10 families and 15 children. Volunteers from the organization spent $200 in gifts and clothing for each family they adopted. Families also get a basket of food to cook a Christmas dinner and new pillows, sheets and towels.

“The adoption of Christmas families is probably our largest outreach program that we do each year, servicing the families of Niles, Brandywine and Buchanan,” Nicolazzi said.

Local school districts help to connect the families with the Niles Service League by recommending them for the program.

Throughout the year, Niles Service League members host numerous fundraisers which help to support the holiday adoption program. A November food drive helps to collect food donations for Christmas dinner baskets.   

Prior to shopping, volunteers with the Niles Service League meet with the families to talk about what they need for Christmas, right down to individual color preferences. The volunteers then shop and wrap their presents.

“It’s a pretty special time, because it is a culmination of all the work we have been doing toward [raising money] for the Christmas families,” Nicolazzi said.

When Nicolazzi met with her family this year, she said they told her they were not sure how they would be able to provide gifts for their child this Christmas.

“I asked the mom, ‘Does he believe in Santa Claus?’ and she said, ‘Yes,” Nicolazzi said.

Knowing this, Nicolazzi sought to help keep the magic alive, discreetly dropping off the presents. Knowing that the child will now get to wake up Christmas morning to a tree full of presents was “heartwarming,” she said.

Nicolazzi signed up to be a volunteer with the organization about a year ago, after she moved to Niles from Vernon Hills, Illinois to be closer to family.

“I was talking with someone and said, ‘I really want to get involved with something that services kids,’ and someone suggested the Niles Service League,” Nicolazzi said. “This is a very special kind of volunteer opportunity and I encourage anyone who is looking for something special [to take part], because it’s local and directly services kids.”

The Niles Service League got its start in 1934 with the aim to help improve the lives of local children. The organization raises money for multiple projects that support students in Niles, Buchanan and Brandywine school district. Those interested in learning more about the organization can visit nilesserviceleague.org or visit their Facebook page.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” Nicolazzi said.

News

Niles Township Board discusses e-bikes, public works equipment

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 540,115 cases, 13,865 deaths

Cassopolis

LEE celebrates MLK Day with virtual event

Cass County

Cass County Probate Court urges public to prepare for vaccination of incapacitated family members

Buchanan

Southwest Michigan wineries adapt to continued mandates

Brandywine Education

MEC accepting scholarship applications

Cass County

Bonine House to honor COVID-19 victims with light ceremony

Business

Organizers call Hunter Ice ‘non-festival’ a success

Berrien County

Short notice of MDHHS orders creates hurdle for southwest Michigan restaurants

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Cass County reports new COVID-19 deaths

Berrien County

LMC awards inaugural Spirit of MLK Spotlight honors

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Jan. 13-17

Berrien County

Now is the Time” Martin Luther King Jr. celebration week begins at LMC

Dowagiac

SMC trustees give president positive first performance review

News

Niles Police Log: Jan. 7-13

Berrien County

Blossomtime extends pageant season

Berrien County

Niles restaurant receives community support for refusing to close indoor dining

Cass County

Teen dead following US-12 crash

News

PHOTO STORY: Ice sculptures draw visitors to downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac resident marks centennial birthday

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 533,602 cases, 13,701 deaths

Dowagiac

Woman of color to lead DUS board

Cassopolis

Cassopolis organization to host virtual MLK Jr. Day celebration

Berrien County

Community partners come together for Martin Luther King Jr. Day