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SHS Gives Back to Families with Give-A-Thon 2021

Communications Team

This is the time of year when big kids often turn into little kids.

And for Jaden Varghese, that newly-purchased skateboard from the kids’ toy department was just too hard to resist.

“I can’t lie, (the skateboard) was pretty cool, and it was a big enough size that I could try it out,” Varghese, a senior at Stevenson, said with a chuckle and a huge smile. “It was great. I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to raise enough money for the skateboard, but I’m so excited that we did and that we are able to provide that for the child.”

The child is on Varghese’s Give-A-Thon gift list. Varghese is on the executive board of the National Honor Society, which for weeks has been planning and working behind the scenes of Give-A-Thon, Stevenson’s long-running holiday fundraiser.

Earlier today, Give-A-Thon came to a dramatic conclusion with “Delivery Day,” in which gifts such as Varghese’s skateboard made their way to less fortunate kids and families throughout Lake County via trucks that were stationed outside the Performing Arts Center.

The trucks were loaded by Stevenson students with the hundreds of wrapped toys and clothing items that were dropped off on the crowded steps of the PAC during "Collection Day" yesterday.

The gifts were purchased by Give-A-Thon student leaders from the wish lists of kids and families throughout Lake County, using money that came from grassroots fundraising efforts over recent weeks throughout school.

“This year, I sold Capri Suns,” senior leader Jesenia Parthasarathy said of her fundraising item. “You just overprice it excessively. Like one pack of 40 Capri Suns is usually $7, but I sold each individual one around school for $1. It’s an extreme mark-up, but people were good with it because they knew (the money went to Give-A-Thon). Plus, I think people really liked being able to have a snack in class.

“It helped because we were able to get a lot of gifts for a lot of children with all of that (Capri Sun) money. It’s a big deal. You feel like you are actually making a difference.”

Give-A-Thon is making even more of a difference this year. Sponsor Courtney Zabrin says that the annual fundraiser officially set a school record with the number of families helped. 

Give-A-Thon reached a peak of about 385 families helped in the past. This year, 402 families will be helped by Give-A-Thon.

“The kids put a ton of work into it this year,” Zabrin said. “I think after COVID, students were really looking to get involved in any way possible. Word of mouth is huge with the kids and as soon as one person starts talking about something, they pass that along to their friends and then they all want to be involved.”

As crowded as the PAC stairs were the last two days with donations, it certainly seemed that a vast majority of the Stevenson community got involved with Give-A-Thon in some way. 

The "Delivery Day" numbers on Give-A-Thon, which was headed up by more than 500 student leaders who were rewarded with pizza today, are impressive. Of the hundreds of toys and gifts collected, 55 were bikes. Meanwhile, there were all sorts of essential supplies donated, including 350 boxes of food and 47 boxes of baby items. There were 80 boxes of diapers alone.

“This means a lot to actually see the tangible changes we’re making in the community,” senior leader Shreya Sharma said while staring at all of the wrapped gifts packed onto the PAC stairs. “You don’t really realize the impact that Stevenson has until you see all these gifts in front of you. It’s been really meaningful to see this and know that we’ll be making an impact on a lot of people’s lives with the work that we’ve done. It’s really amazing.”