For the last six years, Williams Field High School has donated Christmas gifts to families in need through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. This year, Williams Field has fulfilled 135 tags, which is the most it has ever done. According to the Salvation Army’s website, the program provides new clothes and toys to more than one million children and families in need each year.
Families in need can fill out a tag with gifts they would like and the Salvation Army will provide the tags to those who want to help. Beverly Peden, an advisor with the Williams Field Student Council Advisor, helps oversee the project at the school. Peden says the school has fulfilled the wishes of 135 children, ranging from newborns to 16-year-olds.
“We originally started with just the Student Council,” said Peden. “We had a lot of feedback from other teachers asking to participate. It grew from 20 to 70 to 90 students.”
Originally, Williams Field Student Council began the program. However, it has grown today to where clubs, sports, certified staff, administration and classrooms participate.
“One of the things for us is we do a lot of community service projects at Williams Field. I’m proud of the dedication to giving back to others and the continued efforts to these types of programs on our campus,” said Principal Steve Tannenbaum.
While many tags asked for necessities like clothes, Peden said they also collected larger gifts, like bikes, large Lego sets and a car seat. After the donations are collected and organized by the Student Council, they will be loaded on a minibus and transported to the Phoenix Salvation Army. This year, the donations will be loaded on to two minibuses.
“My goal is to continue to grow the program and hope it spreads holiday cheer to students and staff,” said Peden. “Bringing holiday cheer and giving kids gifts is a great feeling.”
Student body president Zoe Knoeczny participates in the program and believes it helps the Williams Field school culture.
“It promotes giving to other people and spreading kindness,” said Knoeczny. “I think a lot of people enjoy it. It’s a really great way to get everyone in the school involved in something and give back to our community.”