Local Holiday Charities This Season

By Emily Frazier

The Giving Tree

Mrs. Klipa posing beside a Christmas tree. Photo by Emily Frazier.

The GS community has come together to check off the Christmas lists of some who are less fortunate. While some have asked for a new phone or a pair of designer shoes, these students were in need of simple necessities that are often forgotten luxuries.

When guidance counselor Mrs. Laura Klipa started working for the high school, she realized there was no participation in the Giving Tree. She heard about it going on in the middle school and wanted to bring it up to the high school.

“I was thinking to myself at that point, if families were counting on that help every year and then all of a sudden you get to [the] high school, there’s nobody helping [to] give these students Christmas gifts,” Mrs. Klipa said.

This year, there were 31 students on the list to receive gifts. The guidance office contacted their families and collected the information for their requests.

The gifts accumulating for the Giving Tree. Photo by Emily Frazier.

“I’ll reach out to families, and we will ask them what their needs are and then clothing specifics,” Klipa said. “A lot of the families just need basic things. Sometimes we do canned or boxed foods. Specifically, we get requests for winter coats, clothing, scarves, hats, shoes, socks and clothing like tops and bottoms.”

Other requests include toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste and more.

“Sometimes there’s special requests,” Klipa said. “Somebody will have an interest like journaling or coloring, and they want something like that.”

More gifts ready to be delivered. Photo by Emily Frazier.

Aside from gift giving, GS has other ways to help.

“The biggest help that we’ve had in terms of student groups is the National Art Honor Society,” Klipa said. “They make the chocolate covered pretzels and that has been an ongoing donation all year long.”

By having opportunities like this to donate through the school, students are motivated to give back in the community as well. Not only during the holidays, but year-round, families are struggling, so this charity gives students a safe place to ask for help.

“Throughout the year – not just at Christmas and the holidays – we do have students that will not have food or clothing and so that gives us the opportunity to go out and buy them their needs,” Mrs. Klipa said.

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is a charity with the goal to collect new toys and deliver them to less fortunate children for Christmas. In Westmoreland County in 2021, 29,326 toys were distributed, and in Pittsburgh, 100,536 toys were distributed.

November 14 was the last day for parents to request toys and December 14 was the last day to donate toys. For a family to be eligible to receive, they had to meet certain requirements such as having children up to the age of 12 and the parents being on a form of public assistance.


A local radio station, 96.1 KISS, hosted a week-long event that helps support the Marines Toys for Tots program.

From November 28 to December 2, people were asked to bring new and unwrapped toys to the collection site in Robinson Town Centre. The toys donated were put into school buses, hence the charity name, Stuff-A-Bus. This year, 66 buses were stuffed.

To raise excitement and attract donors to the event, themed nights were planned. Some of these nights included Black and Gold Night and Touch a Truck Night. Businesses such as Burgatory and 3 River Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram supported the cause by donating the money made from purchasing snicker doodle milk shakes and giving $100 worth of toys after each test drive. People are still able to donate online.

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