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School district provides plenty of holiday giving

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 10:13 p.m.
McKnight Journal
North Hills Senior High School senior Chris Wessel, 18, of West View touches up his group's gingerbread clock tower during 'Gourmet Foods' class Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Students' creations were used for an annual school gingerbread house contest in which people “voted” for their favorites by placing money in each one's corresponding container. All proceeds benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Randy Jarosz | For the McKnight Journal

Across the North Hills School District, various students, student organizations and staff members participated in service activities throughout the holiday season.

North Hills students and staff donated thousands of items for various food drives; more than 1,100 toys for local children in need; more than $10,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation; $513 for a local family who lost their home in a fire; 367 coats for North Hills Community Outreach; and nearly 200 winter coats, hats, gloves and mittens for the Washington Shelter in Washington, Pa. They also provided many other items, dollars and hours to various local causes, including the North Hills Backpack Initiative, which provides needy North Hills students with weekend meals.

In total the donations — both financial and in-kind — to numerous charitable organizations totaled more than $20,000. Below is a list of some of the charitable efforts of North Hills students and staff:

• The North Hills Fighting Indians Marching Band collected 10 large bags of toys for the Labor of Love toy drive during its 37th annual Stadium Review performance.

• North Hills Senior High School students and the National Honor Society collected 50 boxes of food for the North Hills Backpack Initiative.

• Ross Elementary School students raised $4,736 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

• Highcliff Elementary School students raised $513 for a local family who recently lost their home to a fire. The money was raised for the Highcliff Heroes Fund by students dropping change into an aquarium and attempting to land the coins in a smaller container inside the tank.

• West View Elementary School students donated $1,613 during their annual Penny Wars collection. The funds will benefit a West View family in the event of an unexpected tragedy. The collection is overseen by the West View PTA.

• McIntyre Elementary School students contributed $559 to Habitat for Humanity. They raised the money by paying $1 each week to wear the colors of nations from around the world.

• North Hills School District faculty and staff contributed $1,360 to the Elves Fund to provide financial assistance during the holiday season to district families. The annual charitable drive is organized by the North Hills Educational Support Personnel Association, and this holiday season marks the 23rd year for this charitable tradition.

• North Hills Senior High School's Hands for Service Club adopted the baby rhinoceros at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

• North Hills Junior High School eighth-graders donated $1,600 to the North Hills Backpack Initiative through the annual Turkey Trot.

• Ross Elementary School families contributed 140 gifts and donated $85 in cash and gift cards for children in need throughout Allegheny County. Done in partnership by the PTA and Ross Student Council, this year was the first time the building was involved in the Allegheny County Holiday Project.

• North Hills Senior High School's Hands for Service Club raised $3,900 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation — enough to fund a full wish for a child.

• The North Hills School District Athletics and Activities Office conducted the fifth annual toy drive to benefit North Hills families, and students, staff and community members donated more than 700 toys. Ninth-grade social studies classes taught by Olga Smyers, Barb Burnett and Jamie DeWeese contributed 181 toys to the total donation.

•North Hills Junior High School's Team Fire contributed 11 shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and other items to Operation Christmas Child to benefit children in hardship around the world.

• West View Elementary School students and staff raised more than $600 to purchase gifts for families who receive supplemental help through the St. Cyril Food Bank. This is the 14th year for the drive. Students are asked to donate $1 earned by doing an extra chore, passing on a treat or giving their own funds. Fourth-grader Charlotte Schramm gathered $250 on her own.

• North Hills varsity cheerleaders helped collect 367 coats during their sixth annual coat drive to benefit North Hills Community Outreach.

• North Hills Junior High School seventh-graders on Team Wind organized Operation Snowman and donated nearly 200 new winter hats, scarves, gloves and mittens to the Washington Shelter in Washington, Pa.

• First-graders in Carol Nelson's class at McIntyre Elementary School collected items for a gift basket, made cards and crafted a blanket for a classmate's pen pal, who is battling cancer.

• North Hills Junior High School students made 25 blankets for Project Linus at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

• North Hills Senior High School's Hands for Service Club organized an angel tree to benefit the children of the John Heinz Child Development Center. A total of 29 children received five gifts each, thanks to students' generosity. Students also donated pajamas to children at Angels' Place.

• West View Elementary School sponsored a food drive to assist families in the community.

• Highcliff Elementary School teachers and staff held a Unique Holiday Sweater Contest, and students voted on their favorite sweater with a financial contribution. All funds benefited the North Hills Backpack Initiative.

• North Hills Senior High School students in Michelle Medic's “Gourmet Foods” classes participated in an annual gingerbread house contest. Students, staff and others “voted” for their favorites by placing money in each one's corresponding container. All proceeds benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

• North Hills Junior High School students collected 150 personal hygiene items for Vincentian Nursing Home residents. Eleven volunteers personally delivered the items.

• Ross Elementary teachers and staff donated 37 wreaths, which were placed by local veterans and volunteers, including teacher Lois Rebich, at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Washington County.

• McIntyre Elementary School students in Heather Connor's and Kelly Weidl's second-grade classes made 40 Veterans Day cards for local veterans.

• West View Elementary School students and staff contributed 120 Blessing Mixes, snack packs filled with items that have a symbolic message, to local veterans hospitals.

• The North Hills Junior High School Student Council and paraprofessional Linda Thompson spearheaded a giving campaign for junior high students and staff across the district raising $1,000 for Engine Company 154 in Staten Island, New York, which was affected by Superstorm Sandy.

• Highcliff Elementary School students and teacher Suheir Pfeil led a campaign gathering $500 and 300 hats, gloves and other items for people who lost everything in Superstorm Sandy.

• North Hills School District students and staff contributed more than $700 to Superstorm Sandy relief.

• North Hills Senior High School's Hands For Service Club collected $618 to help relief efforts in areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.

— Submitted information

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