It truly is the “season of giving,” which is why for the 6th year in a row, members of PALCS staff have sponsored children in need for a Christmas gift drive called the “Angel Tree” for the Delaware Valley Children’s Charity (DVCC). 16 PALCS teachers took on sponsorships this year. 3 of those teachers coordinated donations for entire departments within the school. Members of the Guidance Department, Student Services Department, and Child Accounting Department have all sponsored one or more children as a team.

The Christmas gift drive was sponsored by the Lionville Community YMCA in Exton, PA. The dive provides over 7,000 children in the Delaware Valley with Christmas gifts. For most of the children, these gifts will be the only ones they will receive this year. Members of the PALCS staff have been participating in this drive every year since 2011.

The first Delaware Valley Children’s Charity Holiday Program began in 1986 with five children. However, It was thought by some that as great as the program was around the holidays it would be even better if they could help those in need all year long. It was then, in 1991, the Delaware Valley Children’s Charity formed as a non-profit so they could keep the giving going all 12 months of the year. The Lionville YMCA began their partnership with the charity approximately 15 years ago, and gave the annual holiday program the name “Angel Tree,” enabling YMCA members and others who wanted to participate, the opportunity to sponsor a child each year. There are around 50 community organizations and local businesses that sponsor children and donate their services every year.

PALCS staff first got involved with the “Angel Tree” and the Holiday Program back in 2011 when CPFA teacher Tom West started coordinating sponsorships between PALCS staff and the children in need. This came as a suggestion from Mr. West’s wife, Melissa Shanahan West, who is a Welcome Center Associate at the Lionville YMCA. In 2010, Mrs. West accepted the role of director for the “Angel Tree” at the Lionville YMCA. In order to make it easier for PALCS staff to participate in the charity, Mr. and Mrs. West ferry all the gift bags from PALCS to the YMCA every year.

We had a chance to speak with Mr. West about the “Angel Tree,” and he explained how very special and personal the program is to him, his family, and the participating PALCS staff members. “As the staff member who has brought this opportunity to our team over the past 7 years, I am always amazed at both the generosity and the drive of our staff. […] Everyone who participates takes their sponsorship seriously and never lets us down,” proudly explains Mr. West. The children within the program come from all different backgrounds, communities and ethnicities. For most of the children, the gifts they receive through this drive are the only gifts they will be receiving at all this Christmas season. When you commit to sponsoring a child, you learn their name, age, clothing and shoe sizes, and what they for as a Christmas gift. Each gift is wrapped and then the gifts are gathered together and placed in a large plastic bag and tagged with their sponsor number. The DVCC then distributes the gifts among the children.

“It is gratifying to know that you are giving a very specific child a happier holiday, and when I share the pictures with them of the pile of bagged gifts ready to go on the truck, the impact of the scope of this charity is driven home,” says Mr. West.

Anyone interested in getting involved with this wonderful charity that helps those in need, not only during the holidays, but all year long, can visit dvcconline.org to sponsor a child directly. Check the list of Holiday Program sponsors to find an organization near them to get sponsorship packets.

On behalf of all of us here at PALCS we wish you and your families Happy Holiday’s and would like to thank all those who have sponsored a child in need and who have shown us the true meaning of the season of giving.