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 DHS News November 2013     


The Holiday Project – Thankful For Those Who Give

The Department of Human Services’ Holiday Project every year fulfills the holiday wishes of thousands of children who receive child welfare services in Allegheny County. But in a sense, the project’s work comes down to a factor of one.

Even when we say a corporation sponsors hundreds of children, it’s really the individual employees of the company who step up to help make the Holiday Project succeed, said Brendan Hanschen, Events Coordinator in the Office of Community Relations. Thoughtful individuals in a number of local corporations and organizations spearhead these collective donations drives.

And there are the donations made by people who, of their own volition, see a need and reach out anonymously to help.  Hundreds of people choose to donate a gift or two to assist DHS to meet needs of children who are not formally sponsored. “They do add up,” said Brendan. “Especially with our donation boxes. We don’t even know who those donors are.”

The donation boxes are set up at Curves, 2940 South Park Road, Bethel Park; Turner Jewelers, 5648 William Flynn Highway, Richland; and at two locations Downtown, the Human Services Building, One Smith St., and at Family Court, 440 Ross St.

County employees are also contributing, taking gift tags that list individual requests from the Holiday Project Wish Tree at the Human Services Building, One Smithfield St., or contributing through the County Executive’s office. Gifts can be made during the county holiday party from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Dec. 4, at the Grand Staircase in the County Courthouse, 436 Grant St.

Individuals have undertaken some extraordinary efforts through the years. “Last year there was a woman who went out with her sister and bought two carloads of toys,” Brendan said. Another family who adopted a girl from foster care has, for 11 years, collected items to fill 500 stockings. The family will be doing the same this year.  

Still other individuals shop the Project’s Amazon Wish List. Students, such as those at Shady Side Academy, will sponsor children. Shady Side will make dreams come true for 100 children this year. A number of local churches also sponsor children each year, Brendan said.

This year, 2,100 out of about 3,400 children who will benefit from the Holiday Project will be sponsored through corporate collections or by individuals. Individual sponsorship is easy and affordable for many. “We have a requested minimum of $25 but most of the sponsors choose to go above that,” Brendan said. “We are lucky to have such generous sponsors.”

Gift and monetary donations are being taken through Dec. 6. Contact the Events and Donations Team at 412-350-3428 or by email at EventandDonationsTeam@AlleghenyCounty.us.  Checks can be made out to the Events and Donations Team and sent to the Office of Community Relations/Events and Donations Team, One Smithfield St., Pittsburgh PA 15222.


Gifts must be new and unwrapped.  A list of “hottest toys and gifts” and suggestions for donations, along with other Holiday Project information, can be found on the Holiday Project page of the DHS website.

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