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WCSD seeks donations for first-ever Zephyr Holiday Express

For the first time ever, Whitehall-Coplay School District, along with Zephyr Pride Foundation, is hosting a Zephyr Express Holiday event.

This program, similar to Shop with a Cop, is designed to couple WCSD students at Gockley, Steckel and Zephyr elementary schools and Whitehall-Coplay Middle School with Whitehall Police Department officers for the day to spend time together, build connections and shop for the students’ families members.

“The students will be assigned to police personnel who will assist in selecting appropriate gifts for each family member,” according to the Zephyr Families United Facebook page. “The students who will be selected are being faced with life challenges, such as losing a family member, homelessness, military deployment, a parent losing a job, economic shortcoming or other life-changing hardships.”

When the shopping is completed, students will have lunch, wrap their gifts and chat more with the officers.

For the first year, WCSD is expecting to host 13 students, who are chosen by their teachers or guidance counselors.

“Pairing up students who are in desperate need for holiday cheer with our hometown heroes - our police officers - fosters relationships and memories that will long remain after the holidays are over,” said Michelle Khouri, district registrar/community relations.

“I am so excited to coordinate this event with Melissa Hudak and a select group of community partners. Melissa and I have worked together on donation drives for years now,” Khouri added. “For many years, our dream was to be able to have the opportunity to coordinate the Zephyr Express Holiday event. This school year, Dr. [Robert] Steckel, our superintendent, gave us the approval to move forward with the planning of this event. We were beyond thrilled and immediately got to work.”

WCSD is asking for your help in making this program a success. The event will be funded by donations from local community members, organizations and businesses. Each selected student will be given an allotted gift card to buy presents for families members and him or herself. In addition to monetary donations, WCSD is also seeking food, wrapping paper, scissors, tape, gift tags, luncheon items and an event photographer.

Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce is one of the organizations getting involved with the Zephyr Holiday Express. The Chamber held a gift wrap drive during its Nov. 14 tree lighting and basket raffle at Lehigh Valley Mall, Whitehall. For each item of wrapping paper, tape, ribbons, bows or gift tags donated at the Chamber event, participants received a free raffle ticket. These items will be used for students to wrap their gifts.

“This entire event is funded by the generosity, kindness and compassionate organizations, businesses and community members in our community. Our first year is shaping up to exceed our expectations, and we are steadfast in providing this wonderful opportunity for many more years to come,” Khouri said.

If you have questions about the program, email Khouri at khourim@whitehallcoplay.org. Donations, along with the form found on the Zephyr Families United Facebook page, are requested to be received by Nov. 17 and addressed to Khouri at WCSD, 2640 Campus Drive, Whitehall, 18052.