A group of Clovis teenagers recently spent one happy evening sipping coffees together and browsing stores in north Fresno. They loaded carts with clothes, makeup, shoes and video games – all for total strangers.
The shopping spree was for youth in the foster care system – almost all of them teenagers the age of the Clovis group.
It’s kind of hard to think that these kids don’t get anything that they need, let alone want.
Danielle Desrosiers, age 17
Thirteen foster kids received presents thanks to $650 raised by 130 students in Cliff Nitschke’s AP government classes at Clovis North High School. The students’ donations ranged from 25 cents to $50. At least several of around 20 teens who shopped for Christmas presents on Dec. 13 pitched in more of their own money to buy additional presents.
“Teenagers get a really bad rap out there, that they’re selfish and self-centered,” Nitschke says, “and they really just need an opportunity to give back. And if you could see the smiles on their faces as they’re shopping for their kids … it’s amazing.”
The shopping was personal since the teens received the names of foster youth they were buying presents for, along with their Christmas wish lists.
Gracyn Torigian, 17, paced aisles looking for shoes, sweaters and makeup for a girl her age. This wasn’t her first brush with philanthropy. When she was 12, Gracyn asked her parents to give her Christmas presents to children in greater need.
“They taught me to give and to enjoy giving,” Gracyn says of her parents. “Giving could be your present.”
Share some happiness.
Jack Brownell, age 17
Haroon Sekhon, 17, shopped alongside Gracyn for clothes.
“I’m happy that I get a chance to do this,” Haroon says. “There’s already lot of hate and pain going around in the world, so I just want to contribute a little good that I can in any way possible. Just be a better human being.”
Joey Rose, 18, thinks it’s “cool to do something really nice, just because.”
“Even just a little bit will go a long way if everyone does a little, just a little,” he says.
Everybody working together can make a big difference in the community.
Nitschke has been asking his students for the past 20 years if they want to donate to foster youth.
“We all know that we can’t change the entire world,” Nitschke says, “but we can make our own little corner of the world a better place for everybody.”
He beamed with pride while watching his students Christmas shop.
“If you’re a scrooge, it warms up your heart … you can’t help but smile and be touched by it.”
Jack Brownell, 17, hopes the good deeds inspire people to “give other people a thought.”
“It goes a long way,” Jack says. “Share some happiness.”