BURGETTSTOWN - The Burgettstown Middle/High School student councils raised approximately $4,500 to help local families and individuals dealing with the aftermath of tragedies and in need during the holiday season.
The student council has held the annual holiday charity auction for several decades, and the proceeds have gone to a variety of causes over the years - first to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, then to the Caring Team and finally to a charity established a few years ago by the student councils, Burgettstown Cares.
The charity was founded with the intent on keeping the money raised in the local area, benefiting those in need in the Burgettstown area.
Michael Bandi, Burgettstown High School Student Council member, acted as the auctioneer during the district's high school and middle school charity auctions Dec. 19. The student council raised $4,500 for Burgettstown Cares, a local charity. -- Summer Wallace-Minger
"Sometimes, they come to us," said Council President Jordan Tunno. "Other times, we ask local churches. Also, some of the council members hear about (those in need) at their churches."
Robert Bennett, student council adviser, said the student council approached the Burgettstown Area School Board approximately three years ago about forming the charity and was given the board's blessing.
Each of the 24 high school and 18 middle school student council members are asked to solicit two donations from area businesses and make one donation of their own for the auction. However, through the generosity of local business people and the student's hard work, there were approximately 200 auction packages donated - to each school. The items are auctioned off to the student body, with the high schoolers attending a morning auction and the younger children attending an afternoon one. High-value items have a minimum bid, said Tunno.
In addition to providing the bid items, the student council members also conduct the auctions, displaying the items, keeping track of bids and auction item winners, accepting money and distributing auction items. Student Council member Michael Bandi was this year's auctioneer. At least 24 students are needed to run the auction itself, said Tunno.
"It gets them out of school, and they like that, but they come willing to spend," said Tunno of the students. "It's crazy, we've had $80 bids for a bag of chips. They know it goes to a good cause and they get a little competitive."
Bennett said the charity auction has been going on for decades at the school, but the modern incarnation was heavily influenced by former student council adviser Mary Elaine Lozosky.
"This is a fantastic group of kids," he said of the current student council. "They do so much work for the school, they're a great bunch."
Bennett praised area businesses for their support of the event.
"There are so many donations each year," he said. "We are so blessed to have so much support from businesses from Burgettstown all the way up to Robinson Township. Their support for the auction is fantastic and their generosity is amazing."
The students look forward to the charity auction each year and their excitement over the holidays and winter break translates to generous bids, Bennett said.
"They look forward to it, and it helps get them into the holiday mood a little bit," he said. "They are very generous with their wallets."
The auction is made possible by the support of the school board, school administration, faculty and staff.
"Without them, we couldn't do this," said Bennett. "To everyone involved, we are thankful to them. We had another successful auction this year, and the student council certainly appreciates the abundant generosity of our students, faculty and community."
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)