Students at St. Vitus School have designated dress-down days where they do not have to wear their uniforms to school, but there is a catch.

The trade-off is students must donate $1 to a charitable cause.

Wednesday afternoon, students presented WTAE’s chief meteorologist Mike Harvey with a check for $500 for WTAE’s long-running charitable cause Project Bundle-Up as a result of funding raised from the dress-down days.

Ed Sharbaugh, principal of the county’s lone parochial school, said the designated days have themes, such as Breast Cancer Awareness, Red Ribbon Week and Anti-Bullying Month, and are well received from the students.

“We have our morning prayer and we discuss the initiative,” Sharbaugh said. “The teachers then try to incorporate the dress-down day into the lesson plan.

“The students like dress-down day, and we give them incentives, such as dress-down day as a reward. The students do love them.”

Project Bundle Up, created in 1986, is the Pittsburgh television station’s charitable cause that provides children and senior citizens in western Pennsylvania with hats, coats, gloves, scarves and boots. The program is run in conjunction with The Salvation Army, and has raised more than $14 million and provided new winter wear for more than 275,000 individuals.

Sharbaugh said the school has been working to get WTAE to give a presentation for some time.

“We were very excited,” Sharbaugh said. “Karen Baum is the parent who brought them in. She started two years ago. WTAE only does so many visits a year. It is tough to get on the list, but we were excited when they found out they were coming.”

Father Joseph McCaffrey and Harvey praised the students for their charitable efforts.

“For you who donated, I believe, through our dress-down days, money is now going to help those people who are suffering as we get into cold weather without having the proper clothing and coats while the weather gets very cold,” McCaffrey said. “Your generosity is deeply appreciated and is certainly an act of mercy.”

“Project Bundle Up is for kids who don’t have winter jackets, winter boots, socks, whatever it takes to stay warm, and the only way kids who don’t have the money to get that stuff is because kids like you have dress-down day and collect money to go a long way in making sure the kids through this region are staying warm this winter,” Harvey said.

The donation to Project Bundle Up, Sharbaugh said, “is good for the kids to understand the gift of giving and the importance of giving.”

“We have to understand as well that children need to learn to give to others as well to help this in need,” he said. “I think this is a perfect charity to donate to, especially at this time of year when it gets cold. The students think about other kids who don’t have gloves or a coat, and I think it is a good learning experience for the kids.”

Harvey gave a presentation on the weather and all the major storms and the damages they can cause. A representative of the Carnegie Science Center also put on a science presentation for the students.

baddleman@ncnewsonline.com

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