This article was written for publication in the Winchester Star but was not published. Many thanks to our adult advisors and our Student Council who have spearheaded this wonderful campaign.
Winchester High School Gives Back
by Chris Kuang — WHS Student Council President
Started by the Class of 2013, Winchester High School Gives Back has quickly become an important tradition among students and staff at 80 Skillings Road. Motivated by an urge to give back to those around us, the WHS community unites every November and December behind the shared goal of making the holiday season a little brighter for families who may be struggling to get by. All of the money raised is given directly back in the form of presents to local children, proving that we need look no further than our own neighborhoods to give back.
WHS Gives Back is now spearheaded now by the WHS Student Council along with Spanish teachers Krystin Beauchesne and Stephanie Kudlate, with assistance from class officers in each of the four grades. Senior Dan Hayes, one of the student organizers behind the project, says “WHS Gives Back gives students the chance to reflect on how lucky we are and to come together as a community to help children who are less fortunate.”
Donations are collected from students and staff starting in early November. Last year, we were fortunate enough to raise over $10,000 and spend an average of $100 purchasing necessities and gifts for each of one hundred local kids. The money we raise allows us to buy dozens of winter coats, mittens, hats, and snow pants, as well as numerous board games, books, and toys each year. No child should go giftless through the winter and our high donation totals enable us to purchase fun gifts on top of winter necessities for each family.
Knowing our efforts have a large impact on a child or family makes WHS Gives Back much more special for students and staff. One parent shares, “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to WGB for helping my family during holiday season. I am honored to be part of such a wonderful community that truly cares about each other. The kindness that has been shown to my family warms my heart.”
The charitable nature of the fundraiser is one that can be personal for some students. Senior Gamaral Sawyer, also one of the project’s organizers, adds “Growing up in the city of Philadelphia, I didn’t have much and I often received. So to me giving back feels great because it reminds me of where I used to be and to be grateful for where I am now.”
The money raised is divided equally among every homeroom throughout grades 9-12 in the form of Target giftcards. Teams of student shoppers, equipped with a child’s wish list and clothing sizes, volunteer to shop for their homeroom. The gifts are then wrapped and WHS Gives Back concludes with a school-wide assembly featuring musical ensembles and a display of all the wrapped presents before they are delivered to families.
It is our hope that this local, grassroots project will continue to be able to make a difference in the lives of many and bring holiday cheer to families in Winchester and beyond. WHS Gives Back offers each of us a chance to reflect on our unique situations and recognize that others may not be as fortunate. Another parent whose children have received gifts shares, “Thank you so much for your help during the holidays. It really helps people like myself who are disabled and can not give our children the exact things they always want. Thank you for the smiles on my children’s faces this holiday season. Many blessings.”
In our effort to reach this year’s fundraising goal of $15,000, the WHS student body would like to invite the Winchester community to help us give back to the very community that has given us so much over the years. Any donations, large or small, will be graciously accepted and will go directly to the purchase of gifts. Checks made out to “WHS Gives Back” or cash will be accepted every day in the WHS Main Office until our fundraising deadline of Monday, December 14.