On Dec. 20, moe than 50 volunteers from Lancaster High School made their way to the Lancaster Youth Bureau to change local families’ lives just in time for Christmas.
The Lancaster Youth Bureau has been providing families things that they couldn’t otherwise afford during the Christmas season through the Day of Caring event for more than 20 years.
Mark Skowron, coordinator of student affairs at the high school, has been working with the Youth Bureau on this project since it began.
It all started more than 25 years ago when the students of the Leadership Academy wanted to raise money during the Christmas season for local families.
"We needed somewhere for this money to go, and the Youth Bureau needed the manpower to make it happen. It all just worked out," Skowron said.
On this special day, hundreds of gifts, more than 5,000 cookies and 50 Christmas trees were given to families around the community.
Student volunteers were divided into teams consisting of two seniors and one underclassman and were assigned a family to "shop" for. A list of all family the members with their genders and ages was given to each group, along with ideas on what the kids would be interested in receiving for Christmas.
The groups then picked out gifts for each child, including games, books, socks, gloves and stuffed animals. The gifts ranged from toy race cars to wireless speakers.
The teams then wrapped the toys and labeled each family’s bag of gifts.
In another room, almost a dozen volunteers worked diligently to put together more than 100 bags of food for the families.
"We tried to balance out each bag," said student volunteer Amber Oczowinski, a junior at Lancaster High School. "Each family got some vegetables, starches and ham."
A few days before this event, student volunteers worked for hours in the Lancaster High School cafeteria to make more than 5,000 homemade cookies to give to these families, as well.
Outside, more student volunteers waited for families to pick out a Christmas tree with decorations. The girls helped carry the ornaments and lights, while the boys carried the trees to the cars and tied them up.
"It was such a humbling experience to see all the families walk out with smiles on their faces," Lexi Bueme, a senior at Lancaster High School, said. "It was such a great feeling knowing that we made someone’s Christmas happen."
Peyton McConville is a senior at Lancaster High School.