The tradition of local youth recognizing needs in the community at Christmas time continued on Monday as PECI students delivered gifts for 38 local children at the Angel Tree office.
For decades, the local secondary school has undertaken the task of taking on a number of paper angels from the The Children’s Foundation Angel Tree program.
The charitable program is for parents and caregivers to ensure all children have a merry Christmas morning despite difficult circumstances.
“This year, we were able to see the entire school both the Secondary and Elementary panels as well as staff take on sponsoring angels and raise money for gifts,” PECI Secondary educator Greer Koutroulides told the Gazette Monday as students from the Senior Entrepreneurship program filed into the Angel Tree office to deliver presents for upwards of 40 local children.
The legacy of PECI’s continued support of the Angel Tree initiative goes back to the origins of the program itself.
It supports local families at stressful time of year and builds an incredible amount of school spirit as classes challenge one another to raise funds and sponsor area children to ensure they have the merriest Christmas possible.
Senior PECI student Harmonie Selman said the organizing ENT class knows the type of legacy that gets built year after year as the school dutifully takes part in the program and said the group wanted to ensure they didn’t let their predecessors down.
“We know what this time of year is about and we all remember supporting the Angel Tree Campaign in Grade 9 and 10 so to be the organizing class in 2018 is a very big honour,” Selman said. “I think that students realize or are at least starting to recognize how hard some kids have it in our community and why giving back in this way means so much to them.”
Campaign organizer Sue Rose loves all of the individuals and businesses pick up Angels off the tree at Benson Hall in November and early December but especially gets a kick out of PECI’s continued support of the program that’s spanned generations of students where mothers and fathers once gave and donated in the early years now see their offspring taking part in current times.
Historically, outside of class challenges, the student body has hosted talent shows and auctions or other various events through the years to help build the coffers and allow students to purchase gifts.
“It’s kids helping kids and PECI is so amazing,” Rose told the Gazette. “We always hear about the youth in this community and it’s often in a bad light, There’s a whole other side that people aren’t seeing but these kids are fabulous and they care…you can see it in their faces every time they bring gifts into the office.”
And the legacy and recognition endures when the students become PECI alumni.
Just this week, a pair of graduated Panthers stopped by with gifts to support the Angel Tree Campaign and mentioned to Angel Tree staff how important taking part in the campaign was to them during their time at the local secondary school.
“We put them to work and made them carry some packages upstairs, just like they did when they were going to PECI,” Rose said with a laugh. “Just like they did when they were students.”