Niles High School students donate more than 300 gifts for area teens

Published 8:14 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

NILES — A local high school showcased its giving spirit this holiday season.

Students at Niles High School helped organize the Annual Teen Gift Drive with the Niles Salvation Army. The event provides gifts and essential goods for families in need. Parents were able to pick out toys and other goods for their children.

More than 300 gifts — including clothing, gift cards, sporting equipment and more — were collected and donated by Niles High School, with the efforts led by student clubs and organizations including Students Against Destructive Decisions, National Honor Society, student council and Future Farmers of America.

Karissa Young, a teacher at Niles High who helped organize the gift drive, was pleased with participation this year.

“The kids were great about collecting gifts,” Young said. “Every year, they want to collect more. We’re able to buy more and do more because of their drive, which is awesome to see.”

The event began years ago as a way for students to give back to the community. In previous years, the event was bolstered by bake sales and silent auctions, Young said.

“With COVID, we’ve had to get a little more creative with how we bring in things,” she said.

She was impressed with her students’ efforts considering the ongoing pandemic.

“We have awesome kids at Niles,” she said. “Sometimes kids get a bad rap just because they’re teenagers, but our kids have big hearts. It brings joy to me and the staff knowing that the kids have such a big role in impacting the community.”

According to Young, teens are typically the most difficult demographic to shop for. Despite that, Young said that the school’s donations to the Salvation Army made teens the demographic with the most gifts.

“Kids know when there’s a need,” she said. “People are so generous. They know a lot of families are struggling, and they still want to help. They amaze me every year, they just keep coming and giving. I want the community to know these are great students and they’re going to do amazing things for the community in the future.”