Campaign helps community at holidays

PHOTO by EMMA GOSALVEZ/ THE EXPRESS Students who help organize Bellefonte Area High School’s Mini-Thon wrapped presents for community members from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17 as a fundraiser. From left are Eddie Fitzgerald, Keeli Pighetti and Gabbie Pighetti.

BELLEFONTE — Gift wrapping for a lot of friends and family can be a long process and hard to fit in time for amidst other preparations for the holidays.

Fortunately, members of the Bellefonte Area High School Mini-Thon recently came to the rescue for local community members.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Dec. 17, several members held a gift-wrapping event at the high school, at which time donations to Mini-Thon, which benefits the Four Diamonds Fund, were also accepted. The fund financially assists families who have children with cancer.

This gift-wrapping effort really helped people like Norman Benford of State College, who brought many gifts he needed to be wrapped for friends and family.

“I love giving presents; I hate wrapping presents,” he said.

Benford said the effort organized by Mini-Thon was a great idea.

“It’s always nice to be able to support something when they’re supporting something that’s very good for the community and I was very happy to find out they were doing it,”

This year was the first year the gift-wrapping event was held, and the committee thought it would be a good way to lend a hand to the community.

“We understand that around this time of the season it is hard to get everything completed, so we figured that we could help out,” said event chair Gabbie Pighetti. “I personally believe that it is very important to be involved with the community and that they know what we are doing at the high school. The communities’ support and help to reach our fundraising goal is key in our success as a Mini-Thon committee and school as a whole.”

Started last school year, the high school Mini-Thon is made up of four committees of about 30 students who organize the school’s Mini-Thon event, the majority of whom are members of student council. The initiative was started thanks to senior Eddie Fitzgerald, who currently serves as student council president.

“Two years ago, I was looking at becoming student council president and I went to a leadership conference that we had and a representative of Mini-Thon was there,” he said. “I remembered in middle school we did what was known as the “All-Night Dance,” which helped raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and I wanted to try to implement that into the high school, because it was always such a fun time back then. To kind of have that come full circle toward the end of my tenure at Bellefonte I think would be really cool.”

Afterward, Fitzgerald spoke with a couple of faculty and staff members at the high school, and they implemented Bellefonte’s first Mini-Thon last year.

Since then, Fitzgerald said, the club has held about seven fundraisers and has visited a lot of businesses to carry on the THON tradition of “canning” to raise money for Four Diamonds.

Throughout the current school year, the students will hold several fundraisers, all leading up to the Mini-Thon event to be held Friday, March 23, from 2 to 10 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.

“We are so excited for our Mini-Thon this year and our gift wrapping is just the beginning to reaching our goal,” Pighetti said.

According to Pighetti, the goal this year is to raise $7,000 for the Four Diamonds Foundation Fund. Last year, the Mini-Thon committee raised around $5,000.

One fundraiser whose proceeds will benefit Four Diamonds is “Mr. Bellefonte.” According to math teacher and mini-Thon adviser Arianna Gouzouasis, the Mr. Bellefonte event will be held Thursday, Jan. 25, and is for any senior male students who want to participate.

“It’s almost like a mock male beauty pageant,” Gouzouasis said. “We encourage the boys participating to raise money, and then whoever raises the most would get a ‘Mr. Charity’ award.”

Another upcoming fundraiser is a dodgeball tournament that will be held Friday, Feb. 23 in the high school gymnasium.

All proceeds will go toward Mini-Thon, Gouzouasis said.

Throughout the current school year, members of the club will also be visiting local businesses to can, in addition to organizing a fundraiser sheet at school and setting up a table during winter sports events.