The holidays took on a different meaning for Stevenson brothers Yashwanth and Nikhil Gangavarapu.
Rather than make a list of the items that they wanted from friends and family, the Gangavarapu brothers had a different kind of request. And what a gift they ultimately ended up receiving.
The brothers asked that, in lieu of gifts for themselves, their family and friends instead donate to a fundraiser that they knew would help dozens of children in need. A post on Facebook drew the Gangavarapu brothers in. A fourth-grade teacher in Waukegan made a plea for her students.
"The teacher, Dana Arndt, had posted an ad on facebook requesting aid for her students," Nikhil Gangavarapu said. "Seeing this, we chose to help her by raising money to donate goods to the children for the holidays."
The brothers raised $850, enough to help provide coats and toys and board games for 40 children. This was the second year Yashwanth, a senior, has been involved in helping children around the holidays. For Nikhil, a freshman, this is his first experience.
"It is honestly a great feeling to know that we were able to make a positive impact on a kid's life," Yashwanth said. "I hope that we can continue doing this and be involved in other activities now and in the future to give back to the community."
"KIVA club is all about raising money and helping entrepreneurs get themselves going," Nikhil said. "As its main mission is one of service, I naturally gravitated towards other service-related events as well. Knowing that my actions are helping kids experience a better holiday is a gift of its own. It helps me feel that I am making a difference in somebody else's life and that they will be happier because of it.