WESTVILLE - During the holiday season each year, people in the Westville community come together to help those less fortunate.

This year marks the 29th year for SantasAnonymous. The group of volunteers works together to collect donations to be passed on to those in need in the Westville School District.

Students at Westville Junior High competed in a contest sponsored by the student council to see how many items they could collect for local families. Mike Lankston's eighth-grade homeroom won, collecting 1,193 items of clothing and toys. They will be treated to breakfast in January by student council advisor Karen Olsen.

"The kids really did a good job," she said.

Student Council President Taylor Fox, 14, is part of the class that won the competition.

"I'm happy that I donated stuff to the needy kids who don't get much for Christmas," he said.

Students filled the front hallway at the school with bags of new and used toys and clothes. Those items will go to a sorting location to be wrapped and then taken to families in the community.

"We have been blessed in the community because they do come together to support us," organizer Cindy Pataki said, adding although there have been many needs worldwide this year, local people still contributed.

The group receives a list of those in need from the schools and also receives requests from others.

"It's determined by need," she said, explaining people fill out a form listing what they really need. Ninety percent of the requests are for clothing, including underwear, socks, coats, gloves and hats.

"Very seldom do we get a request for a special toy," Pataki said.

Both new and used items can be donated until Tuesday at Judith Giacoma Elementary School and until Dec. 21 at Charter Communications in Westville.

"We take new and used winter-only clothing, boys and girls," she said. "We're trying to fill in ages 6 through 13."

The group already received items for infants and older children but has a great need in the middle age group. The need for help goes up and down each year, and this year 60 families are on the list to receive Christmas packages.

And volunteers are needed to sort through the donations that will be delivered Dec. 23.

"It's just a very good feeling when you go to bed on Christmas Eve and you know that every child within the Westville School District has had the ability to have Christmas," Pataki said.

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