CCIU students help more than 800 needy Chesco families for holidays

TCHS Pickering volunteers help wrap gifts chosen by shoppers as part of Holiday Hope Chest 2019.

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 TCHS Brandywine, Pennock’s Bridge and Pickering campuses, respectively, and the CCDC. More than 800 families benefited from the event at the four locations. The value of all donated goods and money raised totaled more than $53,000.

Hundreds of volunteers devoted time in December to set up the event, assist the shoppers and to wrap presents for the families. Students made up the majority of volunteers and were instrumental in fundraising, bringing in donations and working the event to help make Holiday Hope Chest a success.

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 campuses traveled to other TCHS campuses to assist non-English speaking shoppers, which was deeply appreciated.

“Holiday Hope Chest enables those who participate to directly observe the benefit of their donations, making it a truly unique and fulfilling experience for all involved,” said Brian Hughes, TCHS Pennock’s Bridge principal. “Holiday Hope Chest at TCHS Pennock’s Bridge, and our other three locations continue to be a great community service event for the entire Chester County community. This year, our student and adult volunteers were able to provide a free holiday shopping experience for hundreds of families throughout Chester County, which really enforces the sense of community this event has built over the years,” said Hughes.

Families in need are referred to the Holiday Hope Chest by community organizations and 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 how the event has impacted both recipients and volunteers. “Everyone comes together as part of the community and they all have a passion for this outreach to the point that they come back year-after-year to serve our community. This is the essence of Holiday Hope Chest, community helping community,” said Patty Knecht.

According to Nancy Young, CCDC vice principal, “Every year I am humbled and amazed by the generosity of our staff and community members and their commitment to making the holidays a memorable time for every child. The gratitude of the families who attend make this event so meaningful to all involved.”

The Holiday Hope Chest event was held on December 6, at CCDC and assisted over 300 children with over 35 volunteers assisting. On December 7, TCHS Brandywine Campus supported approximately 250 families with over 100 volunteers while TCHS Pennock’s Bridge Campus supported over 250 families with over 100 volunteers. TCHS Pickering Campus held its event on December 14, which served over 150 families and had over 100 volunteers.

For more information about Holiday Hope Chest, please visit

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