By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
For the 20th year, the Sacred Heart Academy Community Awareness Committee (CAC) organized the Sacred Heart Schools’ Christmas toy drive to benefit children in the poverty-stricken area of Kermit, W.Va.
A two-week toy drive was held at each school on the Ursuline campus: Sacred Heart Academy, Sacred Heart Model School, Sacred Heart Preschool and Sacred Heart School for the Arts. The drive resulted in students collecting nearly 3,000 gifts. In addition, students at Sacred Heart Academy raised $1,615.34 to purchase additional Christmas presents.
This annual toy drive began in 1994 when Barbara Simmons, former moderator of the CAC, wanted to create a unique service experience for students at Sacred Heart Academy, a news release from the school said.
Then-principal Ursuline Sister Paula Kleine-Kracht suggested reaching out to Christian Help of Mingo County, W.Va., an emergency assistance agency started by Ursuline Sister Brendan Conlon, the release said.
This year, juniors Kelly Teta and Emily Easterling served as coordinators of the annual toy drive.
“The more people serve, the more it spreads. So, go serve,” Teta said.
On Nov. 11, students loaded the donated gifts into a truck and traveled with faculty and parent volunteers to deliver the toys to Christian Help. While in Kermit, the students toured the region to “gain a better understanding of the hardships faced by many families living in the area,” the release said.
“The Appalachian gift drive is by far the largest and most rewarding initiative the Community Awareness Committee tackles each year. The students feel compelled to dedicate a great deal of time and energy toward this drive and their hard work is what has made it such a success,” Alex DePriest, CAC advisor and SHA faculty member, said.
In the evening, the girls hosted a pizza party for local teens.
“It’s unbelievable to think about the impact we are having on the lives of others. It makes me so happy to know that I am directly providing for a young child or a teenager just like me,” Teta said.