CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. - High school students in Chicago Heights held a Christmas Drive Tuesday to help neighbors in need.
With the school band playing holiday music and people dressed up in Santa hats, both the sounds of Christmas and the spirit were apparent at Marian Catholic High School.
"It's service. What we like to do is service to the community. We want to be an instrumental part of it. We give back," said Tom Lachcik, Marian Catholic High School Student Council co-moderator, who helped organize the drive.
The entire student body worked to gather donations for 32 families, including boxes of food, household goods and of course, Christmas presents.
But students get something, too.
"They get the joy out of it, just helping the community since the community has done so much for us," said senior Helen Mulugetta.
It’s the 64th year for the Christmas Drive, which started back in 1958 when Marian Catholic High School was founded.
"We've been doing this for over 60 years, and it's something that we're planning on doing a lot more, too," said Lachcik.
Due to COVID, the drive was all online for the last two years. The teens clearly were glad to be back in person, organizing all the donations they'd spent weeks gathering.
"We put a lot of work into making this whole thing go and to get to this moment, it's like utter bliss," said senior Xavier Buford.
For Buford, the bliss part is handing out donations to families that were identified by the nonprofit, Respond Now, as needing some help.
Buford says in the Christmas season, giving to the community is the best gift of all. He helped load the car of a single mother of six then asked her for a hug, saying, "Merry Christmas."