Angels descend at Emmaus High School
‘Tis the season of giving and the Emmaus High School Angel Network is exemplifying the spirit of the season by helping those in need in the surrounding community.
EHS students, community and church volunteers, teachers and others gathered Dec. 15 to pack approximately 14,000 items into 169 baskets as part of the EHS Angel Network mission to benefit those in need during the holidays.
Each basket is packed with enough food to help a family of four have three meals a day during winter break from school. The baskets also include holiday gifts.
“There is a great need,” Lisa Baltz, president of Angel Network said in an interview earlier this month. “There is always a need.”
Guidance staff, headed by Jen Carolla, at EHS help identify those in need of help.
Students, teachers and staff, business leaders, church and other religious groups, student athletes and members of the community collect items for the baskets including canned goods, laundry detergent and staples such as pasta and sauce. Each basket also includes fresh fruit. Baltz said oranges are a favorite fruit for baskets prepared during the winter holiday break.
Donations often come from repeat donors. Clubs, teams and organizations often collect perennial items to donate to Angel Network. Other groups and individuals may respond to Angel Network organizers’ requests for specific things.
“People want to help,” Baltz said.
Laurie Fine coordinates food gifts for the network.
“Laurie really makes it look easy,” Baltz said. “It is like a part-time job for her.”
At Christmas, gift requests also are met through the Angel Network and among the most popular items, Baltz said, are spirit gear requests such as EHS sweatshirts.
The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, Emmaus, offers space for organizers and volunteers to collect and sort items. Families come to the church to receive baskets as well, although it is not unheard of for volunteers to deliver baskets to recipients.
The winter break baskets cap a year of work for the EHS Angel Network.
The group also prepares and distributes baskets for the Thanksgiving holiday break and spring break. The Angel Network distributed 163 baskets in November.
Spring is a particularly challenging time for donations, Baltz said.
The Angel Network also helps when emergencies strike. Donations of gift cards from local food stores such as Weis Markets and Giant Food Stores are always welcome, Baltz said.
Those in need include displaced families, those left in need by unemployment or disability, a crisis or a family tragedy such as a fire. Perennial needs include school supplies, sneakers, new bathing suits for those taking swimming classes at the high school, hygiene and personal care items, gym clothes and large backpacks. Such supplies stock the “The Resource Closet” program. The network also has a prom program to help students.
Monetary donations also are welcome.
The EHS Angel Network is a 501 3-C nonprofit.
“It’s very rewarding and makes the holidays even sweeter,” Baltz said of volunteering with the Angel Network. Baltz started working with the group after visiting ninth grade orientation at EHS. Her children have since graduated high school. Baltz plans to continue working with the network.
“I am very dedicated to the mission. I think it’s just wonderful.”
For information, visit the website at ehsangelnetwork.org.