Hundreds of Families Receive Support from CCIU’s Holiday Hope Chest

CDC Volunteers
Child and Career Development Center staff make final preparations for the Holiday Hope Chest event. From left: Julie Gonzalez, Keisha Vuong, and Sarina Weaver.

Students from all three Chester County Intermediate Unit Technical College High School campuses and the Child and Career Development Center brought an abundance of hope to Chester County families in need this year through the Holiday Hope Chest program.

Holiday Hope Chest is a charity event that provides a free day of shopping for Chester County residents in need.

Holiday Hope Chest events were held at the TCHS Brandywine, Pennock’s Bridge, and Pickering campuses and the CCDC. A total of 456 families, accounting for approximately 1,300 children, benefited from the event at the four locations. The total value of all donated goods and money raised totaled more than $40,000.

Hundreds of volunteers devoted their time on four Saturdays in November and December to set up the event, assist the shoppers, and to wrap presents for the families. The majority of these volunteers were students who didn’t just help to raise funds and collect donations, but who also donated their time to make sure the event was special for participating families.

A highlight of the event was that bilingual students volunteered to assist shoppers whose primary language was not English. For example, bilingual students from TCHS Pennock’s Bridge traveled to TCHS Pickering to assist non-English speaking shoppers.

“It is just so amazing to see our students take ownership of this event and give back,” said Brian Hughes, Principal of TCHS Pennock’s Bridge. “TCHS instills in our students a strong sense of community, and to see them live that out by helping families who have fallen on hard times have a wonderful holiday season, that’s just incredible.”

Families in need are referred to the Holiday Hope Chest by community organizations, and are then given a voucher to shop at the store, which consists of new and gently used items such as toys, books, accessories, electronics, and clothing.

Patty Knecht, former director of the CCIU’s Practical Nursing Program, and her husband Duane, who founded the program, have seen tremendous growth over the years.

“This is truly a dream come true and always the best Christmas present, seeing all of the communities and all of the diverse volunteers come together,” she said.

“This was such a blessing,” said one parent who attended the CCDC event. “I got the one toy my son wanted that I couldn’t afford. Thank you.”

According to Dr. Susan Mateka, CCDC Principal, “This event would not have been possible if not for the generosity of numerous community organizations and our staff who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of our students.”

The Holiday Hope Chest event was held at TCHS Brandywine on Nov. 26 and supported about 180 families with over 100 volunteers. TCHS Pennock’s Bridge held its event on Dec. 3, supporting over 170 families with over 100 volunteers, and raised over $13,000 in donations. The CCDC’s Holiday Hope Chest event assisted over 55 families on Dec. 9. TCHS Pickering held its event on Dec. 10 and served over 40 families and had over 80 volunteers.

Click here for more information about the Holiday Hope Chest program.

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