DGN supports non-for-profits in the holiday season


Photo via Grove Express

LEADING THE MASSES: Students pose for a picture while volunteering at the Grove Express 5k.

Sarah Woods, A&E Editor


The holiday season is one full of giving, care, and spreading love throughout family and community members. DGN shares these values through donating to numerous non-for-profits, most of which rely on student and community member participation. 

The Giving Tree is an organization that started 27 years ago, after Direct Action got in contact with the Humanitarian Service Project (HSP). Their goal was to provide families in need with food, presents, and other donations over the holiday season.

 Before the pandemic, Direct Action would choose 200 children and senior citizens from an HSP form that eligible people filled out. This selection process is done by HSP alone in order to keep family names anonymous to Direct Action. In past years, DGN students would purchase gifts for the selected children and seniors. One of the Giving Tree organizers ,Lisa Mangelsdorf, recounted the large level of support Direct Action received during this event. 

“Teams, clubs, parents, teachers, and students would bring in hundreds of gifts that would fill an entire school bus. One time a student called into a radio station and won an American Girl doll that she donated to the Giving Tree,” Mangelsdorf said.

Omega spoke to one of the students who received a Giving Tree package last Winter. They recall receiving art supplies and a pair of shoes after requesting them on the HSP form. The Giving Tree didn’t only support them financially, but also left an emotional impact on them that they still carry with them today.

“I got the gifts during a period of time where I wasn’t receiving a lot of love in my life and things were very desperate financially. The support from administration at DGN was unbelievable. The personalized nature of the gift really struck, me. I still think about it whenever I wear the shoes,” they said. 

While COVID-19 made it unsafe to physically deliver gifts to families, Direct Action is still helping out this holiday season by donating gift cards and small presents from HSP instead. 

DGN also helped out with Downers Grove’s annual Grove Express 5K race this Thanksgiving. The race, which took place in Downtown Downers on Thanksgiving morning, was created as a way to contribute more funds to Downers Grove. “All profits made from the Grove Express 5K will be donated to schools and other community facilities,” Grove Express officer Janet Alikpala said. “We are being thoughtful about keeping funding local to directly benefit our elementary and high school communities,” Alikpala said.

The biggest change seen this year is the addition of DGN and DGS shirts available for purchase. These shirts were designed by a board of 6 students chosen by Grove Express. The board, named Junior Board, was created as a way to advertise the race to high schoolers. Members of the board help organize the race, make decisions regarding marketing, and learn about how business boards function.

A member of the Junior Board, Addie Potter, said the shirts were designed by a board member during one of their meetings.

“We were throwing around the idea, and he just whipped out his computer and designed something we all thought was awesome,” Potter said.

Like all other Grove Express profits, the extra money made from the shirts will go to Downers Grove resources. 

The “Glory to Ukraine” bracelets will be resold at DGN this fall. Students will be able to purchase the $3 bracelets from Gunde Burrit, the organizer of the bracelets. All the proceeds go to a non-profit organization created to support Ukrainian people called RAZOM. Burrit decided to re-sell the bracelets after seeing the amount that was left over from the sale in Spring. 

If there are still bracelets after they are sold at DGN, Burrit hopes to find a store that will allow customers to take the bracelets and leave a donation of their choice as their payment. 

“I wish the whole nightmare in Ukraine was over soon and we could focus on rebuilding the country,” Burrit said.

DGN relies on students for all of these non-profits to be successful. Volunteers are needed to donate gift cards, sign up for the race, and buy bracelets in order to keep the giving spirit alive. With the help of both administration and students, DGN is able to make everybody feel taken care of going into winter break.