Justin McIlwee / Staff Writer
PUBLICATION: Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, VA)
Photo courtesy of Broadway High School
DATE: January 3, 2018
As Andy Williams sang, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
And for many people, Christmas time is the happiest days of their year. But for many others, Christmas isn’t so happy. Lots of families in the area go without a holiday meal or presents for their children because they simply can’t afford it.
This year, however, Broadway High School students and staff took an extra step to make sure the number of hungry families and families in need was lower than in past years. The BHS Student Council Association and ACES club, a student leadership development club, helped create the Happy Holidays Project as a way to help students and their families.
“We have our weekend food students that we try to help out. And the senior fund that was left from last year, they designated that they wanted the remainder of that money to go into an account that could be used to help any of our kids that are in need, around the holidays, if they needed food, a jacket or anything like that,” said Jen Knick, English teacher and SCA sponsor at BHS.
So, while the money was in the fund for students who were already part of the weekend food program, Knick met with the SCA and ACES clubs who decided they wanted to help more students. The groups approached BHS principal Donna Abernathy, who put out a call through the school’s messaging system asking for any families who might need help during the holidays to please get in touch with someone at the school.
“We were happy, but surprised at the number of people who called,” Knick said. “It was a lot more people than we expected, which was fine because we combined funds from SCA, ACES and the seniors from last year.”
Then, according to Knick, news of the collection got out and spread around the Broadway community.
“A lot of local companies and organizations started helping us, too,” she said. “A Sunday school class from Mt. Olive Church of the Brethren sent us a very generous check. Cracker Barrel pitched in and they took care of one of the meals for one of our families who aren’t living in a house right now.”
In all, Lantz Construction in Broadway, Mt. Olive Church of the Brethren Sunday School Class, Trans Tech, several BHS staff members, Cracker Barrel, Broadway Automotive Service, Timberville Food Lion, BHS SCA, BHS ACES, BHS class of 2017 and the BHS boys basketball team helped with donations.
Chris Weaver, president and CEO of Lantz Construction, sent out an email to employees asking for any type of donation. In the end, after a donation from the company itself, Lantz was able to deliver a check for $1,800 to the project.
With all the donations, the Happy Holidays Project was able to provide 20 meals for families and buy gifts and necessities for 60 children. And as big a success as the program was this year, they plan on doing it again next year, but with more time for donations, hopefully helping more families in the process. But as Knick explained, none of it would have happened without the love and support of the community.
“It’s unbelievable to see the amount of caring that people will show when others are in need,” she said. “Everyone comes together to help and make a difference. There is no better place to be than in the Broadway family.”