For almost a decade, students at the Independence Catholic school have been adopting families from the St. Mary’s Parish Center. Families in need register with the parish center, and then each first-period class adopts one to two families, depending on their size. This year, St. Mary’s adopted 14 families.

Tess Hart is proud of her fellow classmates at St. Mary’s High School.

“I think everyone did what they could to make sure that those who do not have enough this time of year get it,” she said. “I was surprised to see how many wanted to participate in helping these families. It makes me feel good to see people want to help. They want to give back just because they can.”

For almost a decade, students at the Independence Catholic school have been adopting families from the St. Mary’s Parish Center. Families in need register with the parish center, and then each first-period class adopts one to two families, depending on their size.

This year, St. Mary’s adopted 14 families.

“We have close to 100 percent of our students participating each year,” said Sara Kenney, Student Council adviser at St. Mary’s High School. “I think the students really enjoy giving back to the community. They talk about how their gifts will help families have a nice Christmas and are happy to know that they are putting smiles on the faces of children.”

Kenney said students have the opportunity to choose an item for the families from a wish list provided. For those who did not want to go shopping themselves, they could opt to bring a monetary donation. A group of students then went as a group to complete the Christmas shopping. As a school, everyone helped with the gift wrapping.

“There are so many families in need that we wish we could help more,” Kenney said. “These kids do a great job of helping their community.”

Senior Ashley Johnson said she believes students make the project a priority because they understand that without it, some would not have Christmas at all.

“We all know that it is good to help others. I think people feel like if we can get presents, then others also have that right,” she said. “When families are asking for comfortable clothes, you realize that we all take things for granted in our lives.”

Senior Courtney Mannion said she was happy to see that everyone pitched in to make the project a success.

“Sometimes there are rewards for collecting the most items, but in this case there were not,” she said. “It is the competition that drives people a lot of times, but in this case, it was something else. We wanted to make everyone’s Christmas a good one.”