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Santa Claus is comin’ to town, and he’s getting an assist from Lake Forest High School.
Students, administrators and teachers have purchased gifts — more than 500 in all — as part of the school’s Adopt A Family program, held in conjuncture with the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic Charities.
The Lake Forest girls gymnastics team joined in after practice on Dec. 5, taking a bus to a nearby Target store to purchase gifts for needy families in Lake County. Gifts included bedding, clothing items, an art kit, Barbie dolls and other toys from a prepared wish list.
The Scouts picked the items and donated some of their own money toward the purchases. Families taking part in the program will pick up the gifts from a warehouse owned by Catholic Charities. Kathy O’Hara, Lake Forest’s Student Volunteer Services Community Coordinator, said that Catholic Charities served 13,000 Lake County families with gifts last year.
“It’s a fun tradition here, helping a family in need,” said Lake Forest junior Brittany Moccia, who competed in Saturday’s Conant Invite and finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 37.75.
“I think it’s important for kids our age to to help people. It’s a good life lesson, helping others who are less fortunate. If there’s something you can do to improve someone’s life — even in small way — anyone should do that.”
Senior Kylie Carlson scored 8.875 on floor exercise, 8.75 on balance beam and 8.35 on bars at Conant, helping the Scouts (110.35) finish a narrow second to champion Carmel (109.575).
“It’s way of helping out others … showing kindness — and making a difference in other people’s lives,” Carlson said of the Adopt a Family program. “You know the people we’re helping will be excited. Everyone should be loved and appreciated, especially during the holidays.
“Watching the news, there’s so much bad in the world, and we all have the power to give back and make a difference. There’s hope that we can lead things in the right direction.”
Lake Forest coach Robin Straus, who is looking to guide her squad to a fourth consecutive appearance in the state meet, said the girls are doing more than paying lip service when discussing their views about the program.
“They know they live in an affluent community, but you wouldn’t know it,” said Straus, whose team posted a 145.8 to 139 win over host Mundelein on Monday. “They have huge hearts, and they ‘get it.’ ”