WESTFIELD – For the 13th consecutive year, Westfield State University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has sponsored local economically disadvantaged children in Westfield Public Schools to provide gifts from “Santa” through their Secret Santa program. This year, 29 children from Abner Gibbs, Franklin Avenue and Highland Elementary School have been identified through the Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), said Volunteer Coordinator Tina Macy.
“This special partnership with the Westfield State University Athletic department provides families in need with Christmas presents for all the children in their family. In the midst of final papers and final exams, these hard-working students raise money, go shopping for personalized gifts, and wrap them for our students. What big hearts they have,” Macy said.
WSU student athletes donated $1,300 this year, “the best ever,” said Nancy Bals, Associate Athletic Director at Westfield State. Bals said they were able to purchase almost 100 gifts, which the students gift wrapped on Monday. The gifts will be delivered to the schools this week and then given to the parents to provide a special Christmas for the children.
The SAAC Secret Santa program was started by Betty Dely, Women’s Basketball Class of 2008, as the result of attending a NCAA leadership conference, Bals said.