Salem News Article: Essex Tech donates gifts to 200 children for Hawk Holiday Hope
Hundreds of gifts are laid out in Essex Tech’s gymnasium on Friday, before being loaded onto trucks for the Department of Children and Families office in Salem.
Students gather for a school-wide assembly on Friday to celebrate their hard work.
Essex Tech’s dance team performs at the assembly on Friday.

DANVERS — Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School’s Hawk Holiday Hope drive is back for its ninth consecutive year, on a larger scale than ever.

The annual school-wide community service learning project sees students, staff, parents, and local community groups donate holiday gifts to children such as bikes, stuffed animals, warm clothes, toys, and more.

By partnering with the Department of Children and Families at its Salem office, the school was able to donate gifts to 200 students this year.

“It’s over 2,000 gifts for 200 kids — that’s a lot of gifts,” said Thomas O’Toole, an assistant superintendent at Essex Tech. “(During) the first block, everybody is finishing their gifts, wrapping them, and then bringing them down to the gym. Everybody helps out, it’s become a great tradition.”

Classes, clubs and student organizations are assigned one child to buy gifts for in the fall, and in addition to gifts from groups like TrackPoint in Danvers or Laborers Local 22, every child has eight presents donated to them.

After the school day on Thursday, the PTO decorated the school to become a winter wonderland with inflatables, lights, and wreaths to surprise the students during first period on Friday. All the wrapped gifts were brought down to the school gymnasium and laid out in an impressive spread to give students a clear visual of their hard work and outreach in preparation for the day.

The school’s dance team, faculty band, chorus, and others gathered for a school-wide assembly in the gym on Friday, celebrating the hard work of students, staff, parents, and community groups who helped to make the holidays brighter for children in need.

“It’s one of those things that really shows how many hands make light work,” said Tony DiLuna, the STEAM Academy Coordinator. “Everybody does a little bit, and when you sit back and look at all the presents laid out you just go ‘wow’. To see them all laid out like that, and to see these literal truck-fulls of gifts ride out is just so impressive.”

Michael McHugh, Salem News.

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