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DHS News December 2012

Holiday Project Spreads Joy

Pirate Fest gift collectionThe hard work of DHS staff and generous donations from local businesses and individuals led to another successful year for the DHS Holiday Project. This year, 4,000 children and youth served by the Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) received gifts, and 2,300 of those children were directly sponsored by individuals and corporations.

In 2012, Community Members Go Above and Beyond 

Seven collection drives, including the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pirate Fest, provided hundreds of gifts for local children. County offices pitched in, too, with the County Executive’s office making special appeals for donations at several county-sponsored holiday events such as the tree lighting and Holiday Celebration. Half Price Books and Trau & Loevner – a company that sells screen printed apparel – both donated thousands of pieces of merchandise to the Holiday Project. Additionally, Centimark donated $5000 to the Project and many individuals were so committed to the Project that they chose to spearhead gift drives at their workplaces.  

Brashear Volunteers 

Holiday Project Workshop at the Human Services BuildingOn December 6, more than 25 students from Brashear High School exemplified the holiday message of hope and good cheer by not only volunteering at the DHS Holiday Project Workshop but also contributing to the cost of the bus needed to bring them to the Human Services Building. 

The students are part of C.H.A.N.G.E.S. (Community Helping Alliance for Neighborhood Goals in Education), a club that pairs students from an urban and suburban school to perform monthly community service. Recently, funding for the program was eliminated.

To get to the Holiday Project Workshop, each of the students contributed toward the cost of the bus – $136 in total. They were also responsible for paying for their own lunch. Once at the Human Services Building, the students spent four and a half hours “shopping” through the selection of donated gifts to find matches for children’s wish lists.  

“To me, paying $5 to volunteer was a better way to spend my money than just driving around wasting gas,” said John, a senior at Brashear. “We volunteered with the Holiday Project last year, and I had a great experience. I think everyone deserves a little something for Christmas. It’s good to give back and spread happiness and joy.” 

Club sponsor Nathan concluded, “In our school, more than 50% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, so having to pay out-of-pocket for both lunch and a bus can mean a lot to them. Teens often get stereotyped as selfish, but many of them do care and want to give and help others.” 

Steelers Signing 

Steelers football signingFifty children and youth involved with CYF were nominated by caseworkers and representatives to attend a special event: a football signing (footballs provided by Citizens Bank). The signing was held on December 11 and featured special guests Ryan Mundy (#29) and Cortez Allen (#18) of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ryan answered questions from the youth that ranged from “What do you like to do in your free time?” to “Why did you lose the game last week?” After the question and answer session, Ryan and Cortez signed footballs for the children and posed for photos. Each child received a storage case to protect the newly autographed gifts.    

The DHS Holiday Project truly is a collaborative effort that unites members of the community with staff from CYF; the Office of Community Relations (OCR); and the Office of Administrative and Information Management Services (AIMS), especially the facilities staff, to reach the common goal of brightening the holidays for local children. To learn more about the project, please visit the Holiday Project page on the DHS website.

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