To celebrate the season of giving, members of the SkillsUSA leadership team at Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School raised 190 toys during this year’s Toys for Tots campaign.
Shawsheen’s SkillsUSA chapter has coordinated a Toys for Tots fundraiser in partnership with the Billerica Fire Department and the United States Marines for the past six years; the group was unable to organize the fundraiser last year due to COVID. Due to the pandemic, this has been a particularly inspiring year for students as more families have reported financial hardship and more people are reaching out to Toys for Tots to request toys.
The fundraiser started on November 18 and ended on December 10.
Even though the three-week campaign was halted with the Thanksgiving vacation and student stress levels increased due to academic pressures leading up to winter vacation, the SkillsUSA team surpassed their 2019 collection record. of 180 toys.
âIt was exciting to exceed our donation limit,â said Erica Spurr, senior at Shawsheen. âWe were hoping to beat our record, but we would have been happy with the donations we received. “
SkillsUSA President Lucy Malfy added, âMy favorite part about participating in this fundraiser is knowing that I am helping children. Some kids don’t have the luxury of having Christmas presents, and we’re helping to do that.
The Shawsheen Skills Team was introduced to Command Marines Toys for Tots when a student witnessed a family benefit from that organization, and the mission to continue that fundraiser has remained strong ever since.
SkillsUSA Advisor Heidi Lloyd said, âThis particular cause resonates with our students as they are close in age to some of the children who benefit from this drive; they can identify and see themselves in them.
The SkillsUSA organization values ââcommunity engagement and leadership, and the Toys for Tots fundraiser allows students to practice these skills.
âFundraising is a wonderful opportunity for students to work together for the common goal of making an impact in the community,â said Lloyd. “I hope that philanthropy becomes a practice that they carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
The Toys for Tots campaign was a team effort of all the students involved in the SkillsUSA chapter of Shawsheen, but it was led by the leadership team. The students did all of the work from designing and hanging posters throughout the school, handing out collection boxes and checking out gifts given out each morning. Students advocated for participation through announcements in schools and encouraging various clubs and organizations to contribute as teams. At the end of training, the management team counted and sorted the toys to be picked up.
Marine sergeant. Everette and Riveria picked up the toys and thanked the students for being good stewards of the Toys for Tots organization. They applauded their efforts, “… to bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children.”
In recognition of service and thanks, Everette presented each student with a Toys for Tots pin to add to their SkillsUSA blazers as a reminder of their service.
SkillsUSA member Zoey Hemeon said, âThe pins for our blazers are visual reminders of the volunteer work we have done. ”
âAs a member of SkillsUSA, it’s our job to lead by example and be good people,â said sophomore Emily Penny. “The Toys for Tots fundraiser has made the kids happy and helped us practice leading a fundraiser for our school.”