Shawsheen Tech Students Collect 190 Toys For ‘Toys For Tots’

Below is a press release from the Shawsheen Tech:

BILLERICA, MA — The SkillsUSA Leadership Team at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School collected 190 toys during this year’s Toys for Tots drive.

Shawsheen’s SkillsUSA chapter has been coordinating a Toys for Tots fundraiser in partnership with the Billerica Fire Department and the Marines for the last six years; the group was not able to run the fundraiser last year due to COVID.  Because of the pandemic, this year was especially motivating for students as more families have reported financial strain, and more are reaching out to Toys for Tots requesting toys.

The fundraiser started on November 18th and ended on December 10th. Even though the three-week campaign was interrupted with the thanksgiving holiday, and student stress levels have increased because of the academic pressures that precede winter break, the SkillsUSA team exceeded their 2019 collection record of 180 toys.

“It was exciting to exceed our maximum donation,” reported senior Erica Spurr.  “We were hoping to beat our record, but we would have been happy with whatever donations we received.”

Skills President Lucy Malfy shared: “My favorite part about participating in this fundraiser is knowing I am helping kids.  Some kids don’t have the luxury of getting presents for Christmas, and we help to make that happen.”

Shawsheen’s Skills team was introduced to the Marines Toys for Tots drive when a student witnessed a family benefit from this organization; the mission to continue this fundraiser has remained strong ever since.  Skills advisor Heidi Lloyd said, “This particular cause resonates with our students because they are close in age to some of the children that benefit from this drive; they can relate and see themselves in them.”

The SkillsUSA organization values community involvement and leadership, and the Toys for Tots fundraiser allows students to practice those skills.

“The fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity for students to work together with the common goal to make an impact in the community,” explained Lloyd. “Hopefully philanthropy becomes a practice they carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

The Toys for Tots campaign was a team effort from all students involved in Shawsheen’s SkillsUSA chapter, but it was led by the Leadership Team.  Students did all the work from designing and hanging posters throughout the school, distributing collection boxes, and checking for donated gifts every morning.  Students advocated for participation through school announcements and by getting various clubs and organizations to contribute as teams. At the conclusion of the drive, the Leadership Team counted and sorted the toys for pickup. 

Marine Sergeants Everette and Riveria picked up the toys and thanked the students for being good stewards to the Toys for Tots organization. They applauded them for helping “to bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children,” which is the goal of Toys for Tots.  As an acknowledgement of service and token of thanks, Sgt. Everette presented each student with a Toys for Tots pin to add to their SkillsUSA blazers to serve as a reminder of their service.

Skills member Zoey Hemeon said: “Pins for our blazers are visual reminders of the volunteer work we’ve done.” SkillsUSA members collect get pins for involvement in leadership activities and are awarded pins when placing in a competition.

Sophomore Emily Penny summed up the fundraiser well saying, “As a SkillsUSA member, it is our job to set an example and be good people.  The Toys for Tots drive allowed us to make kids happy and helped us practice leading a fundraiser for our school.”

About Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational School District

Established in 1965, Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical School District (SVRVTSD) is a student-centered public institution serving the five member towns of Billerica, Bedford, Burlington, Tewksbury, and Wilmington.  Shawsheen Valley Technical High School serves more than 1,300 students in grades 9-12 and is “Dedicated to Excellence in Education”, integrating academics with more than 20-vocational-technical career pathways.

Shawsheen is located in Billerica, MA on a sprawling 100-acre campus.  The school building features state-of-the-art facilities and athletic fields, twenty-four varsity sports, and dozens of extra-curricular clubs and activities.  All of Shawsheen’s faculty and staff are committed to the mission “to provide a positive learning experience in a safe educational environment that encourages all students to reach their full potential, emphasizes the value of a strong work ethic, and prepares them for adult life in a competitive world.” 

Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical School District also provides high-quality educational programming for youths and adults through Adult Education, Afterschool Exploratory Programs, Community Events, and Summer Camps and Enrichment Programs. Shawsheen is consistently working to increase its rich and varied programming opportunities for the community, which supports its mission that education is a lifelong, continuous process with many paths to living a successful and fulfilling life.

Shawsheen’s SkillsUSA Leadership Team are buried with toys collected during their Toys for Tots drive.  With them are advisor Heidi Lloyd and Marine Sergeants Everette and Riveria.
Center focusIsabella Luis (Wilmington) works to count and display the toys donated during the Toys for Tots drive.
Shawsheen Tech’s SkillsUSA Leadership Team works to divvy up donated items for Toys for Tots.
Sophomore Lindsey Malfy (Tewksbury) hoists a bag of donated toys over her back while working with her peers to load a box truck for the distribution and delivery phase of their Toys for Tots drive.
Marine Sergeant Everette hands out commemorative Toys for Tots pins to Zoey Hemeon (Tewksbury) and each SkillsUSA student as a thank-you for their service.

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