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Secret Santa Shop helps students give

The Christmas count-down has begun!

At Butler Catholic School, we’re getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth with friends and family. From projects to prayers, children are learning about the hope, love, joy, and peace represented by the candles in the Advent wreath.

The Advent season is also about giving. Secret Santa Shop, a Parent Teacher Group (PTG) tradition at BCS, is an opportunity for our students to shop for Christmas gifts in a way that also gives back to their communities.

Held in the auditorium, Secret Santa Shop is a two-day shopping event in early December featuring dozens of gift items priced especially for students. Proceeds go toward the school through PTG and act as supplemental funding for educational programming, events, and opportunities during the year.

This year, a percentage of the sales are also going to Gospa Missions and Abode for Children in Evans City. The non-profits, led by Mary Rutkoski, support two orphanages and schools founded in Nigeria and India.

Before students began their shopping, Rutkoski used photos to explain how students in the orphanages live and go to school. It’s important for our students to understand how some of their gift purchases will go toward future projects.

“I want them to feel good about the money they were spending, so they know they’re doing good,” Rutkoski said.

Bri Strahler, president of PTG, explained Secret Santa Shop is one of many events held annually that fundraises in a fun and creative way. Our students participate in the festivities first-hand.

“They get to experience the joy of picking out gifts,” Strahler said.

Secret Santa Shop helps students learn on several levels.

For one thing, it shows them how to shop on a budget while considering what people may like. For another, it teaches volunteerism and teamwork.

“We have the older students helping out the younger students,” Strahler said.

It also shows students that while a gift might be purchased in Butler, Pennsylvania, it can be received by someone as far away as Cherukupalli, India.

As Christmas approaches, perhaps the best present of all is the gift of giving.