16-year-old to help Chicagoans experiencing homelessness for 9th year of Operation Young Santa

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Operation Young Santa to return for 9th year
Operation Young Santa will return for its ninth year, helping those experiencing homelessness, in collaboration with the Common Ground Foundation.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago teen is helping give back to the city during the holidays.

Operation Young Santa will return for its ninth year, helping those experiencing homelessness, in collaboration with the Common Ground Foundation.

The initiative is led by Common Ground Foundation mentee, 16-year-old Dereon Pyles.

The teen began the yearly tradition with his family nine years ago when he was five years old, after he saw a homeless man in need and he became inspired to give back to those less fortunate than himself. Each year around the holidays, Pyles' family passes out essential items to those in need on the city's West Side.

"This year we plan on doing 900 care packages," Pyles said.

Pyles and Common Ground Foundation Executive Director Karl Kemp joined ABC7 to talk about their work.

Common Ground mentees will help pack 200 toiletry bags on Saturday morning at Kenwood Academy High School. Pyles plans to lead a team to pass out those bags to people experiencing homelessness.

"It's just an amazing combination of the work he's been doing over the last nine years and then what we do with the foundation, with the mentees and their service learning projects," Kemp said.

For more information about Operation Young Santa, click here.

Common Ground is currently accepting donations for Operation Young Santa. They are also looking for volunteers to help hand out the bags.

You can find out more information by heading to the Common Ground Foundation website.