Westfield High School Helping Hands Fund
Submitted by Ingrid Mckinley
Over the years, faculty, staff, students and their families at Westfield High School have suffered serious illness or death of an immediate family member or extraordinary and unexpected financial expenses. These difficult times can result in financial hardship for families. Westfield High School Helping Hands (WHSHH) fund, established in 2012, helps ease the financial burden placed on families during these stressful times.
In the fall of 2011, Thom Hornish, a former WHS social studies teacher, approached the WHS PTSO board with the strong desire of raising money to help families within the Westfield High School system. He was passionate about having a vehicle to financially assist WHS staff, students, and their families, who had been touched by debilitating illness and burdened by medical costs. The WHS PTSO agreed, and Cindy Gallagher, the WHS PTSO President at the time, spearheaded the initial fund-raising campaign for the Westfield High School Helping Hands Fund. The original seed money, almost $3,000, was raised via a spring raffle sale. Without Thom or Cindy, it is unlikely the fund would be here today.
Since WHSHH’s inception in 2012, WHSHH has distributed over $37,500 to 40 families. Direct donations are critical to this fund’s existence. Donations directly impact the lives of families within the Westfield High School community. The WHSHH board, which includes current and alumni faculty, staff and parents, ensures the funds are thoughtfully and prudently distributed to individuals whose financial needs are not capable of being met from other sources. The board also ensures the fund is not depleted.
Donna Hornish, the wife of Thom, former faculty member at WHS and current board member stated, “Living and working in a bucolic town like Westfield, it’s easy to forget that there are those in our midst who may be struggling, both financially and emotionally. With so many people across nations dealing with need and crisis, we strive to make a difference in any way that we can. Although the help we offer may seem small in the face of greater need, the families that we assist are so grateful that someone is looking out for them and offering a literal helping hand. The letters of thanks that we receive are both heartbreaking and heartwarming. One family expressed that they had reached a point in their lives when it seemed impossible to struggle through even one more day. Our small gesture gave them hope and courage, knowing that someone was watching and cared enough to reach out. So many worthwhile charities are seeking your help, but we hope that you will look to your own cherished community.”
Every winter, the WHS Community Service Club hosts ‘A Day Without’ fundraiser for the fund at school. WHSHH cannot continue without the generosity and kindness of our Westfield community. Your donation goes directly back into the community of Westfield High School.
Currently, the Westfield Foundation, a local non-profit organization committed to ‘doing good’ in and around Westfield, holds and manages the funds collected. The Foundation has been in Westfield for over 40 years, awarding well over $6 million to projects and organizations in and around Westfield. By having the Foundation manage the fund, all donors get the added benefit of a tax-deductible donation.
Please consider making a holiday donation to the WHSHH. If you wish to make a donation, we request that donation checks be made payable to ‘Westfield Foundation’ with the memo to read, “WHSHH 2019 appeal’ and please mail directly to the Foundation. The mailing address is: The Westfield Foundation, PO Box 2295, Westfield NJ 07091. We truly appreciate your donations and are very grateful for the past and future generosities of the WHS community. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.