Senior linebacker/tight end James Gildersleeve of Lake Forest High School is the Chicago Bears‘ ninth and final winner of the Community High School All-Star Award. The Community High School All-Star award recognizes high school football players making a positive impact in their community and school throughout the season.
Gildersleeve and his sister, who is also a student at Lake Forest HS, started Treats for Troops two years ago to pair local families with deployed soldiers and send them monthly care packages, cards and emails to help them feel connected to their communities. Throughout the year, they work with local grocery stores and other shops to donate items and help wrap the gifts and handwrite cards. In 2019, they sent out 1,250 care packages to soldiers deployed overseas during the holidays; due to COVID-19 restrictions, they delivered the care packages to reserve units at the Naval Station Great Lakes in 2020. Additionally, they collect and ship candy overseas around Halloween and Girl Scout cookies in the spring. Recently, they also held a winter clothing drive for the Midwest Veterans Closet.
“Whenever you can be involved with young people that prioritize other’s needs, particularly those of service men and women, it gives you a true feeling of pride. James and his family obviously have a strong sense of community, and love for their country,” said Lake Forest head coach Chuck Spagnoli.
Gildersleeve will be directing the $500 donation he receives for winning the award to the Equestrian Connection, which provides equine-assisted therapy programs and services for special needs children and adults.