TCHS students bring cheer to families in need

Students, faculty and staff from TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus raised over $13,000 to help purchase new items, goods, toys and clothing for economically disadvantaged families.

DOWNINGTOWN — Students from all three Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) Technical College High School (TCHS) campuses and the Child and Career Development Center (CCDC) brought an abundance of hope to Chester County families in need this year through the Holiday Hope Chest program. Holiday Hope Chest is a charity event that provides a free day of shopping for Chester County residents in need.   

Holiday Hope Chest events were held at the Chester County Technical College High School Brandywine, Pennock’s Bridge and Pickering campuses, respectively, and the Child and Career Development Center. A total of 456 families, accounting for approximately 1,300 children, benefited from the event at the four locations. The total value of all donated goods and money raised totaled more than $40,000.

Hundreds of volunteers devoted their time on four Saturdays in November and December to set up the event, assist the shoppers and to wrap presents for the families. The majority of these volunteers were students who didn’t just help to fundraise and collect donations, but who also donated their time to make sure the event was special for participating families.

A highlight of the event was that bilingual students volunteered to assist shoppers whose primary language was not English. For example, bilingual students from TCHS Pennock’s Bridge traveled to TCHS Pickering to assist non-English speaking shoppers, which was deeply appreciated.

“It is just so amazing to see our students take ownership of this event and give back,” said Brian Hughes, TCHS Pennock’s Bridge principal. “TCHS instills in our students a strong sense of community and to see them live that out by helping families who have fallen on hard times have a wonderful holiday season, that’s just incredible,” said Hughes. 

Child and Career Development Center staff making final preparations for the Holiday Hope Chest event. Left to right: Julie Gonzalez, Keisha Vuong, Sarina Weaver.

Families in need are referred to the Holiday Hope Chest by community organizations who are then given a voucher to shop at the store, which consists of new and gently used items such as toys, books, accessories, electronics and clothing.

Patty Knecht, former director of the CCIU’s Practical Nursing Program and her husband Duane who founded the program, have seen tremendous growth over the years. “This is truly a dream come true and always the best Christmas present seeing all of the communities and all of the diverse volunteers come together,” said Patty Knecht.

“This was such a blessing. I got the one toy my son wanted that I couldn’t afford. Thank you,” said one parent who attended the CCDC event. According to Dr. Susan Mateka, CCDC principal, “This event would not have been possible if not for the generosity of numerous community organizations and our staff who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of our students.”    

The Holiday Hope Chest event was held at TCHS Brandywine campus on Nov. 26 and supported about 180 families with over 100 volunteers. TCHS Pennock’s Bridge held their event on Dec. 3, supporting over 170 families with over 100 volunteers and raised over $13,000 in donations. The CCDC’s Holiday Hope Chest event assisted over 55 families on Dec. 9. TCHS Pickering held their event on Dec. 10 and served over 40 families and had over 80 volunteers. 

For more information about Holiday Hope Chest please visit

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