HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A group of Hattiebsurg students have started their own service organization to be sure 10 children in single-parent families have gifts for Christmas.
Eighteen-year-old Tiana Smith said she founded Our Profound Youth in October to fill a need she saw in the community.
"I started this organization because my youth really needs help right now," Smith said. "I took it as my job to help my local youth around Hattiesburg."
Once she had the idea, Smith said it wasn't hard to get her friends and cousins involved.
"Well, my friends, we all have a love of children of all ages, and I was thinking that Christmas was coming up," Smith said.
Asia Jones, Smith's cousin and another member of Our Profound Youth, said she liked the idea of youth helping youth.
"I thought it was a great idea how we come together to make our youth better," Jones said. "Just helping. Giving back to our community. We don't see as many people that do that, and I like to do stuff like that. It makes me feel like I'm a better person and a good youth."
The organization is collecting money, toys and personal care items to give as Christmas gifts to children in single-parent families.
"My mom is a single parent," Smith said. "So single parents in need for Christmas, they might need help with their children. I came up with 10 children that I knew, five boys and five girls, of single parents and I would meet them halfway for Christmas and help them out with their children's needs."
Jones said, "I mean, I see a lot of kids who don't have as much, and at school, especially at my school Hattiesburg High, we see a lot of kids who like to bully people who don't have as much. That makes me feel, that kind of hurt me inside because I know there's something I can do to help them."
Smith said the group plans to drop off the gifts to families on Christmas Eve, and Jones said she thinks it will be rewarding for more than just the families receiving the donations.
"Just to see them smile would make me feel warm inside," Jones said.
The group will be taking donations at Sullivan's Grocery Store at 810 James Street every Saturday until Dec. 11.
Smith said anyone with questions or donations call call her at 770.880.0008 for more information.
Smith said she hopes to expand Our Profound Youth's activities both beyond Christmas and beyond Mississippi when she goes to college in Georgia.
"We're going to keep going," Smith said. "I have meetings with people at the public library for read, sitting down reading, and also, I'm going to do a day in the park when it gets a little hotter. Just things like that to let my youth realize they're the best they can be. Be the best they can be."