Fox Chapel Area students reaching out with winter weather clothing drive
By Tawnya Panizzi
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Fox Chapel Area High School students will kick off a winter clothing drive on Monday to help the homeless.
New or gently used gloves, hats, sweatshirts and sweatpants will be collected by the school's community outreach committee through Nov. 26 at the high school along Field Club Road.
Students also will collect new socks, underwear and travel-size toiletries.
“What's great about Fox Chapel Area is that we are a very diverse group but we become united when we do something like this to help others out,” senior Ethan Martin said.
Donations will be taken to the Mercy Behavioral Health Clinic and then distributed at Allegheny County's severe weather emergency shelter, at 620 Smithfield St.
The site opens only during the coldest winter nights and is aimed at drawing in those who typically live on the streets and do not use any of the 12 shelters that are open year round.
Operated by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Office of Community Services, in conjunction with Mercy Health System, the shelter provides food, clothing, health care and counseling.
“People come in and get something warm to eat and some warm clothes to wear,” said Rachel Machen, head of the school's outreach group. “They're sent back out the next morning but at least they have extra clothes to take with them.”
Senior Caroline Cullinan, 18, said she plans to pick up new socks and gloves to donate and hopes others will do the same. The clothing drive is an important tool to help the community but also to raise awareness about the needy in the school district, she said.
“We're not just Fox Chapel up here, we're the whole area. People lose sight that there are kids who don't have much in our school district,” she said. “We need to notice that and help people right here who might need it.”
Machen said the fundraiser is one of many that the 45 members of the outreach committee sponsor throughout the year. Members pack food bags for the hungry, host blood drives and collect change for UNICEF.
Her goal is to encourage students to give back to the community, but they usually find that they get more than they give, she said.
“They get a sense of satisfaction,” Machen said.
Next month, the group plans to visit patients at the Veterans Administration Pittsburgh Health Care System in O'Hara, where they will deliver cards and sing carols.
Junior Andrew Golio said he hopes that others take their lead.
“Our main goal is to get people involved in the community,” he said. “We should all be encouraging these kinds of activities, especially during the holidays when it is the season of giving.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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