Akron Community Comes Together to Collect Christmas Gifts and Resources for Families Experiencing Homelessness this Holiday Season

shelterdistributionProject RISE Staff Members Deliver Gifts
and Good Cheer to a Family at one of the Shelters.


Thanks to many generous donations, this Christmas was a lot happier for many families experiencing homelessness in Akron. On December 16th  and 17th, Project RISE (Realizing Individual Strength through Education) staff members delivered presents and cookies to Akron’s Homeless Shelters. Staff members also enjoyed singing Christmas carols with the shelter residents.

On December 17th, several “doubled up” parents were able to come “shop” for gifts at Trinity United Church of Christ in Akron, where Project RISE was able to store and organize the donated gifts.  The gifts came from several community groups and individuals.


angie2Josh Pasco, Peyton Pappas and Jerrod Pasco Help Wrap
Gifts for Project RISE Adopted Families.


Akron’s Sons of Italy collected around 250 presents donated by its members and hosted a toy-wrapping party in November that was attended by SOI Members and several Project RISE Staff Members.

Both Akron Public Schools’ van drivers and also personnel at the Ott Staff Development Center collected gift cards that were distributed to unaccompanied youth served by Project RISE.

Aidan McStay, a 12-year old Hudson resident, asked for gift cards for his birthday with the intention of donating them to Project RISE. All together, Aidan collected $200 worth of gift cards that were also given out to unaccompanied youth.


logo-akron_public_schools copy


Angie Pappas, owner of DiscoveriClub Daycare and Preschool in Barberton, “adopted” three Project RISE families. Together with some of her staff and family members, the DiscoveriClub group bought several gifts for each member of all three families. They also provided extra wrapped gifts, cookies and wrapping supplies. On December 16th, Ms. Pappas and several family members came to Trinity to help the Project RISE Staff Members with the Gift Organization.

Jennifer Moke of Charles Lee Salon and Spa in Akron hosted a shoe drive at the salon. Through the shoe drive, Ms. Moke was able to collect 55 pairs of shoes for Project RISE. The shoes were given out to the doubled up families at Trinity. The salon also donated $600 to Project RISE.


charles leeEmployees of Charles Lee Salon and Spa.


When the doubled up families came to Trinity to “shop” for presents, they were also able to look through a table full of new or gently used, upscale clothing that was donated by seniors from St.Vincent – St.Mary High School in Akron. Caitlin Bradley, a Senior Class Officer at SVSM, explained that: “We have a Senior Class Breakfast every year during December. We asked the entire senior class (151 students) to donate either new or gently used clothing items, as entry to the senior breakfast”.

Michelle Sivec of Western Reserve Hospital collected gifts and gift cards at her workplace. She collected a bag of new socks and underwear, 15 boxes of macaroni and cheese, a box full of brand new games, several wrapped presents and also several gift cards.


stvSeniors from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School
Donate New and Gently Used Clothing.


Heather DeSessa and the Fishcreek Elementary PTA collected several bags of new socks and underwear, 15 pairs of new shoes and boots, 19 new or gently used coats, 200 new razors and several other hygiene products.

The cookies that were given out during the caroling and gift distribution at the shelters were donated by Dave’s Market, who gave 6 large trays of delicious Christmas cookies.

Project RISE is a federally funded, collaborative effort by the Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the Akron community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth experiencing homelessness. During the 2014-2015 school year, Project RISE identified and served close to 1,800 students and youth.

Project RISE would like to thank everyone involved for their generous donations for the families they serve.  The donations certainly made a big difference for many children experiencing homelessness this Christmas.

For more information about Project RISE, please contact Debra Manteghi at (330) 761-2969 or dmantegh@akron.k12.oh.us

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