Donations help local high school provide Christmas assistance to nearly 30% of students

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The holiday season is flush with gift donations for children, but what about high school students? Educators at Providence Christo Rey High School (PCRHS) say teens often go overlooked.

“There's Toys For Tots and Shop with a Cop, and those are all geared toward younger kids,” said PCRHS President Margie Crooks. “Getting people on board with our high school students, once we explain the need, we had a great community response."

Of their 215 students, over 60 are part of their Christmas assistance program. It gives families gifts for the kids, as well as meal and pantry items. A $2,000 donation from the Beech Grove Police Department helped them boost fundraising this season.

“Until they are out on their own, and can get a job their focus should be on school," said Dale Illingworth who uses the program.

Illingworth has six children, five of whom are biological, and one he has guardianship over. For 10 years he raised three of his children as a solo parent following the death of his first wife. He has since remarried, but it can be hard to provide for that many kids on a pair of incomes.

“We have so many kids in the house that everyone needs clothes," Illingworth said.

Ninety-five percent of PCRHS students qualify for free or reduced lunches, while every senior has been accepted into college over the past 10 years.

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