Haliburton Highlands Secondary School’s Interact club put together 70 boxes for teens to donate to the local food banks for their Teen Holiday Gift Drive initiative. /Submitted

HHSS students bring cheer to their peers

By Vivian Collings

During the holidays, many donate wonderful gifts to food banks for families to give to younger children.

Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Interact club students want to provide teens, their peers, with the same opportunity.

Interact’s Teen Holiday Gift Drive is back again, and is a competition between two school teams to see which can collect the most items to put together boxes to then give to local food banks with teenagers in mind as recipients.

“This initiative is important to Interact because we care about meeting the needs of local families during the holiday season. Often, gift drives produce lots of gifts for younger children. We wanted an initiative that benefits local teens in need,” said Interact member and HHSS student Annabelle Borgdorff.

Last year, the club collected enough to put together 70 boxes.

“It gets bigger every year as we have more and more community support,” said HHSS teacher Christine Carr.

The idea for the initiative came from the students themselves. They want all their peers to be given the same opportunity to open a gift of things they may want or need during the holidays.

“There is definitely a need for this during the holidays, as many families cannot necessarily afford a lot for their kids of all ages, especially right now,” Carr said.

The school will be collecting gift cards, hygiene items, clothing, entertainment items like books and games, and snacks until Sunday, Dec. 11.

“Interact will be putting together gift bags with the collected items. Half of these bags will be donated to the Haliburton Food Bank and the other half to the Minden Food Bank. From there, families in need are invited to pick gifts for their teens from the food banks,” Annabelle said.

Community members are able to contribute by placing donations in the bin provided at the Nutcracker performances at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on Dec. 10 and 11.

The program will allow for teenagers in the community to enjoy gifts they might not otherwise receive, said Annabelle.

“By taking this on, [students] know they are helping their peers and friends in the school around them, and feel like they are making a difference in their own community,” Carr said. “It is a cause they are passionate about, so they get to take the lead and work to make a difference.”