Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, students of the Neshannock Township School District learn important lessons including generosity, compassion and helping those less fortunate than themselves.
Senior high school counselor Brenda DeVincentis serves as home base for a variety of holiday projects, “And I am constantly amazed at the generosity of our township residents,” she said.
She adds that each of the charitable opportunities offered were suggested by current or former students.
The holiday spirit begins, she said with an annual Thanksgiving food drive. Students and staff fill homeroom boxes with specific food items that are provided to local families so they can enjoy the holiday.
“This year one family donated all of the potatoes that we needed,” she said.
But that is just the beginning of the Season of Giving.
New this year, Devincentis said, students and staff have the opportunity to donate to a Hat and Glove Tree in the high school lobby. These items will be given to students of the district who need or want them, and was proposed by high school teacher aide Rose Montini.
Mia Greco, a 2019 Neshannock graduate, now a freshman at Westminster College, last year proposed an Angel Tree to benefit Cray Youth & Family Services. DeVincentis said Greco contacted her again this year to ask if Neshannock would remain involved with the project.
“I can’t say no,” DeVincentis said.
She posted a sign up sheet outside her office and invited anyone interested to fill a Christmas wish list for a child in this system. Wishes included winter clothing and up to three toys or personal items.
She said students, families or staff signed up and within 36 hours of posting the list all 45 Angels were adopted.
She noted there are currently 80 children in the system from the area.
“Last year I started with 20 names and said I could get more,” she said. “This year, I could get only 45 names. Another business took the rest.”
Neshannock students are also taking part this year in the Toys for Tots campaign.
“This is not a National Honor Society project so I’m not organizing it,” she said, noting that she is advisor for the honor society and their Thanksgiving Dinner project.
DeVintincis said Gregg Micsky, the district’s tech teacher and faculty advisor for Peer Leadership is organizing the project.
The Rotary Interact Club, under the sponsorship of Rotary International, New Castle Club No. 89, once again organized a Socktober. The students, she said, collected 1,700 pairs of new socks which were donated to the City Rescue Mission. The mission also accepted food donated for the Thanksgiving project that was in excess of what was needed.
“They say socks are the most requested item that homeless people seek,” she said.
The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County, she said, needs new and gently used winter coats and bath towels. Neshannock graduate Cecelia Weingart works there and asked if the DeVincentis would participate.
The students also support the United Way Blanket Drive and are providing new blankets to low-income families in the county.
DeVincentis said she is proud of the students. “They are learning to give back to our community,” she said. “I thank them for helping to support our community and to spread the Holiday Cheer again this year. “