HEDGESVILLE, W.Va.—Elizabeth Morgan took seriously the challenge of raising enough money to make the best Christmas for a child she didn’t even know.
Morgan, 17, a Hedgesville High School junior, is a student in Frank DiNicola’s marketing class. Students in his three classes — Marketing One and Two and Entrepreneurship — are keeping up a 32-year tradition of raising money for an annual Christmas party for five students each from Hedgesville and Opequon elementary schools.
Principals at Hedgesville and Opequon select the students.
Morgan raised $845, the most among her classmates. Enzo Colandrea, 18, a senior, was second with $500. Both are planning careers in business.
DiNicola said up to 70 percent of his students go on to some level of higher education, most with an interest in the field of business.
“This year, the students raised $5,100, the most ever, enough to spend $400 on Christmas shopping trips for each of the 10 kids,” he said.
“In the 32 years I’ve done this, my marketing students have raised more than $100,000 for this Christmas program,” he said.
In addition to getting a feeling of accomplishment for helping someone less fortunate, the program also gives participating students experience from meeting with the business community and individuals while fundraising.
“They have to show a letter explaining the program to everyone they ask for a donation,” DiNicola said.
Most of his students wore navy blue DECA sweat shirts Saturday indicating that they belonged to their school’s Distributive Education Club of America. It’s an international association of marketing and entrepreneurship students, DiNicola said.
Morgan said this is the first year she raised money for the Christmas party.
“I wanted to collect as much as I could because I knew it was going to a great cause,” she said. “I learned that it was good to give back without receiving anything in return.”
Michael Dodson, 28, a 2002 Hedgesville High School graduate, took DiNicola’s marketing classes. He works as an assistant manager for a local grocery chain.
“I developed the proper work qualities in Mr. DiNicola’s classes,” he said.
Dodson volunteers at the Christmas party every year.
DiNicola started the Christmas program at James Rumsey Technical Institute when he taught there 40 years ago. Six years later, he moved to Hedgesville High School and brought it with him.
This is his last year. He said he’s retiring in the spring, and he and his wife are moving to South Carolina to be closer to their grandchildren.
DiNicola said a Hedgesville High School colleague will take over the Christmas party next year.