Franklin Mint donates $5,000 to CCIU holiday charity event


Students and staff at TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus accept a $5,000 donation from FMFCU for Holiday Hope Chest. Left to right: Marissa Nadachowski, Hailey Maxwell, Leon Spencer, Michael Sheils, Noah Ramagano, Brian Hughes, Patty Knecht.

DOWNINGTOWN — It was only the second week of November, but the spirit of the holidays was already palpable at the Technical College High School (TCHS) Pennock’s Bridge Campus. Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) sparked the excitement when they presented $5,000 to representatives of the Holiday Hope Chest, an annual charity event orchestrated by students and staff from Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) schools and programs.

The Holiday Hope Chest event provides a free day of shopping to Chester County residents in need. Families are referred by community organizations and given a voucher to shop at the “store,” which offers new and gently used items such as toys, books, accessories, electronics and clothing. 

Students in the Allied Health program at TCHS raise thousands of dollars for the event every year, but this year they are on track to raise more than ever, thanks to the generous donation from FMFCU.

Michael Sheils, branch manager of the credit union’s Kennett Square location, presented the check. About the donation he said, “A big part of what the credit union does is support the communities that we’re in. We’re a very local financial institution. As a not-for-profit financial institution, the money that we make after we cover our overhead goes back into the membership and our partner organizations in some way, shape or form, and this is one of the ways that we’re able to contribute.”

Sheils is grateful to Leon Spencer, the school-to-careers specialist at TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus, for alerting FMFCU to the need and giving them an opportunity to participate. “We’re just happy to be a part of the event,” he says.

The students of the Allied Health program are also glad for the chance to help out. Seniors Noah Ramagano and Hailey Maxwell explained that their instructor, Danielle Sheffield, arranges many opportunities for students to get involved in the community, but it’s up to them to decide if they’ll participate.

Senior Marissa Nadachowski calls the opportunity to help local residents in need “amazing.” She says, “We’re going to give them a great holiday, which everyone deserves.”

The Holiday Hope Chest event was founded by the former director of the CCIU’s Practical Nursing Program, Patty Knecht, and her husband Duane several years ago. Since that time, it has grown from a small grassroots movement to a beloved community program with two store locations and many collection sites across the county. Last year a total of 336 families were helped by the Holiday Hope Chest. Several different CCIU programs now participate in the facilitation of the event, and every year the number of community partners grows.

If you are interested in partnering with Holiday Hope Chest this season, please contact Patty Knecht for the TCHS Brandywine store location at or principal Brian Hughes for the TCHS Pennock’s Bridge site at

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