While there’s a lot of hype around holiday shopping this time of year, it's an ugly truth that not everyone in KELOLAND can afford to put gifts under a tree this year.
Thankfully, help is available.
Before Augustana juniors Molly Seberg and Jolene Lucht prepare for final exams, they're cramming to ensure 700 teenagers have a gift to open on Christmas morning. They are a part of the Augustana group called Serving And Learning Together or SALT. The on-campus organization has taken over the Teen Town program in Sioux Falls.
"Teenagers are a very high risk population anyway and to not be able to receive a gift on Christmas probably doesn't help that any," Seberg said.
The student group is thankful for the nearly 200 gifts that have been donated and are ready to be placed under a needy family's Christmas tree. However, an additional 500 gifts are needed before December 15.
As the name of the program suggests, Teen Town provides gifts for children 13 and older for the holiday season. But one of the organizers here says it also fulfills an emotional need for families.
"All parents should be able to give all their children gifts and not just their younger children and they should be able to see the impact on their children and feel like they can give them something for Christmas," Lucht said.
Program advisor Billy Thomas says the students are gaining valuable experience.
"They've come together and they've worked so hard to organize and figure out how to support each other through the process to help benefit the City of Sioux Falls. It's been a really impressive effort," Thomas said.
And the students say they are already making notes on how to improve their efforts next year.
If you'd like to donate gifts for area teenagers, you can drop them off on the second floor of Morrison Commons on the Augustana campus in the Student Services Suite or you can make a donation online.