HATHORNE— Superintendent-Director Heidi Riccio Ed.D. is pleased to share that students and staff donated 1,200 gifts for children in need this year through the district’s annual Hawk Holiday Hope initiative.
Each year, classes at Essex Tech are given the name and interests of a child either in the custody of Department of Children and Families (DCF) or whose families are being serviced by DCF. Students and staff work together for several weeks leading up to the donation pick-up day to brainstorm and donate gifts for those children.
The annual Hawk Holiday Hope donation effort is held by Essex Tech both to spread joy among and benefit local children facing hardship as well as to serve as a lesson to students about the value of helping others.
“Hawk Holiday Hope is a cherished tradition here at Essex Tech, and with the pandemic ongoing, we knew donating gifts this year would be particularly meaningful for the children who are being helped by DCF in our community,” Superintendent Riccio said. “Our students and staff, as always, have been so invested and so excited to give back. It’s special to see our students continue to step up to help others, and a wonderful way to recognize the holiday season.”
DCF representatives picked up the gifts on Tuesday, Dec. 15, which will be given to 150 area children ages newborn to eight-years-old. Members of DCF lined up their cars in front of the school on Tuesday, and gifts were loaded into one car at a time to allow for contactless pickup.
Students wrapped their gifts on their scheduled days for in-person learning through the district’s current hybrid model. Seniors and freshmen wrapped their gifts on Monday, and juniors and sophomores wrapped their gifts on Tuesday.
In previous years, Essex Tech has held a large, festive celebration with students in the gymnasium on the day DCF comes to pick up the gifts. During the event, students wrap their gifts, musical performances are given by students and staff, students wear festive holiday attire, an ugly sweater contest is held, and students have a chance to come together and see the number of gifts they were able to donate as a community to benefit local children.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and social distancing requirements, it was not possible for the whole school to come together in the same way this year. Instead, the district shared with students a video performance by the faculty band.
Parent volunteers also decorated the school with lights, garlands, winter wonderland images, snowflakes, inflatable decorations, and so on, and the gift donations were stacked in the library media center so that students could visually see the effort by the district to donate this year.