Community can bring holiday cheer to students in need in Dakota – Macomb Daily

Rising costs and COVID-19 have caused changes in the lives of students, but Dakota High School’s Care for a Cougar program aims to help keep the Christmas spirit high for students in need.

The Care for a Cougar program invites students, staff and the community to help Dakota High School students in need this holiday season with comfy and heartwarming gifts and gift cards.

“We’re hoping to be able to give gift cards and a few small items to each of our students,” said Donna Knies, Dakota Student Success Program advisor. “We are asking for donations of gift cards, socks, hats, gloves, scarves and personal care items.”

This year marks the third year that Dakota High School has hosted a Care for a Cougar program. In 2019, 123 students received individualized gifts based on tree tags to give. Due to COVID-19 and the associated passages in distance learning or virtual academy, the program has been conducted differently over the past year. It made it possible to drop gifts without contact into drop boxes at the high school or ninth grade center, or online donations. This year, the program combines all three elements in the hope of securing donations. Care for a Cougar began on November 17 and will end on December 16.

“Last year we were able to help 90 high school students. This year we are seeing an increase in the number of students in need due to the pandemic and the rising costs of most things, ”Knies said.

Students and staff can contribute to Care for a Cougar by selecting a gift card tag from a gift tree. Donation trees are located in the Guidance Offices at Dakota High School and Dakota Ninth Grade Center.

“The gift tags contain suggestions from retailers such as clothing stores, sporting goods and restaurants,” Knies said.

Students and staff can also donate personal care products, hats, gloves, scarves or warm socks to drop boxes available at the main entrances and guidance desks of both buildings. Students and staff can donate these new unwrapped gifts during school hours from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“The community can help by donating a gift card, hats, gloves, scarves or personal hygiene items to one of our Dakota buildings during school hours, or by making a online cash donation at All donations are appreciated, ”Knies said.

Community donations are accepted via drop boxes at Dakota High School or in the ninth grade building in the main hallways. Gifts must be new and unwrapped. The Dakota High School and Dakota Ninth Grade Center buildings are located on the same campus, on 21 Mile Road east of Heydenreich Road in Macomb Township. The high school currently has 2,843 students in total, and a total of 676 students attend the Dakota Ninth Grade Center.

The Dakota High School Student Success Program helps students develop strategies for high school success and plan for post-secondary transitions. Students can receive help with courses they are having difficulty in, help choosing a career path, and finding scholarships or financial aid. Knies said students may be eligible for help under the Care for a Cougar program if they are actively attending Dakota or attending it virtually.

“Students who apply and meet the eligibility criteria to receive a free or discounted lunch, and the parent has indicated they would like to be considered for vacation assistance on this request, are contacted,” said Knies. “Referrals can be given by counselors, administrators and teachers. Parents can contact the school to see if their Dakota student can be included in the program.

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