About 15 Northwestern High School students lent a helping hand recently to the United Way of York County’s effort to make sure every local child in need has gifts this holiday season.
The students spent several hours assembling toys donated to the United Way’s Holiday Partners. The combined effort – once called the Sleigh Bell Network – includes WRHI’s Toys for Happiness and The Herald’s Empty Stocking Fund.
In the United Way’s warehouse, where thousands of Christmas toys for kids have been kept through the years, the students put together donated toy nursery sets. The gifts will be passed out to local parents who don’t have the financial ability to buy their children presents during the holidays.
For Northwestern senior student-athlete Sarah Bergin, the Saturday afternoon spent in the warehouse was time well-spent. “Around the holidays, that’s my favorite time to get involved and give back,” she said.
Bergin is president of the Business Professionals of America student organization at Northwestern. The club chose the United Way Holiday Partners program as a service opportunity this year.
To put the donated toys together, Bergin said, the student group unpacked nearly 40 boxes of new toys and separated the parts. Then, they formed an assembly line of sorts to make the process more efficient.
“It was just a huge help for us,” said Jeanie Dubrouillet, Holiday Partners coordinator. “It takes hours to go through these boxes.”
Other local school groups are also pitching in, including Rock Hill High School’s special needs transition program; Beta Club members at York Preparatory Academy; and Clover High School’s Mechatronics class.
Two student groups from Rock Hill High School jumped on board last week to help assemble donated toys. Biology and environmental science teacher Lekeshi Wormley led about 45 students with the Rock Hill High Student Council and the Girls United for Success to help the United Way.
The students took time during their lunch breaks and after school to volunteer. Wormley says she personally knows the impact the donations and assistance will have for local families.
A single parent, Wormley once needed the help herself to provide Christmas for her children, she said. For the kids, the Holiday Partners presents will bring lots of smiles and excitement, she said.
For the parents of those local children, Wormley said, the support and encouragement from the community will be a morale booster.
Holiday Partners serves families with children from age birth to 14 years old.
The Empty Stocking Fun collects monetary donations to bridge the gap between families in need and donated toys. Toys For Happiness collects donated toys. Both efforts are overseen by the United Way of York County to maximize the community impact.
The Empty Stocking Fund serves York, Chester and Lancaster counties. Donations received from people in Lancaster and Chester counties are sent directly to agencies in those counties – not to the Holiday Partners efforts, which serves only York County.
Donations of new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Happiness or monetary donations for the Empty Stocking Fund will be collected through Dec. 22.