HATHORNE – Essex Tech students, staff and faculty will help more than 200 children have a brighter holiday following this year’s 7th annual Hawk Holiday Hope Community Service Learning Project.
Each year classes at Essex Tech are given the name of a child who is in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, or whose family is receiving DCF support and services. Teams select gifts matching that child’s interests. The Project is designed to support those in need and teach students the value of community service according to Superintendent Heidi Riccio and Principal Shannon Donnelly.
“Hawk Holiday Hope is a wonderful opportunity for our students to give back to a community in need. They work together from just after Thanksgiving to be sure that the children on the North Shore have a happy holiday season,” Superintendent Riccio said. “Our graduate profile includes kindness, and this is a remarkable experience for them. I am so proud of how they were able to pull this together.”
Students, faculty and staff teamed up to wrap the gifts, package them up, and on Friday they carried packages for all 200 children to the front of Essex Tech, where they were met by DCF staff members who collected the gifts for distribution.
Among the students helping out were Anthony Roper, Mason Coughlin, Hayley Jacobson and Mallorie Baker, all 10th-graders in the Electrical program who teamed up to win a bulletin board contest earlier in the season. Winning the contest earned the students a $100 gift card to use for their shop, but the students had an even more generous idea.
“We have enough stuff in our shop, and I thought it would make a bigger difference to a child who needs it,” said Jacobson, explaining why the students donated their $100 prize to children in need as well.
“I hope it gives kids more hope for the future,” said Baker. “Hopefully they can give back when they’re older.”
All four students said they recognize how upsetting it can be to not have presents on Christmas, and that they hope Hawk Holiday Hope will bring smiles to the faces of less fortunate kids.
“It is amazing that this is our seventh year of Hawk Holiday Hope and it has grown to support the holiday wishes of children in need on the North Shore,” Assistant Superintendent Thomas O’Toole said. “What began humbly in December 2015 with 65 children has now grown to 200 children and more than 2,500 gifts. This is testimony to our learning community’s ability to respond in a self-offering way during this season of giving.”
“I love seeing how students, staff, and faculty all join to help put a huge smile on their faces on Christmas morning,” said Connie Dawes, Chair of the Special Education Team and coordinator of the Project. “What is better is getting a note from the social worker saying how the mother or father cried when they saw the gifts?”
“Our students and staff amaze me every year with their enthusiasm and excitement. They have been collaborating, planning and shopping for weeks and all of their efforts will benefit students in need on the North Shore. This project brings out the very best in our students and staff and I am so proud of them,” Principal Donnelly said.
Essex Tech wishes to thank families and community members who donated gifts, wrapping paper, and money to support Hawk Holiday Hope, and to the Essex North Shore PTO and parents for decorating the school for Hawk Holiday Hope Day.
“Merry Christmas and happy New Year,” said 10th grade Electrical students Anthony Roper and Mason Coughlin.