The Pennington School was ‘all in’

This year marks 27 years of the school's annual holiday party with HomeFront


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On Saturday, Dec. 9, The Pennington School welcomed about 70 local families to its annual holiday party for clients of HomeFront, a Mercer County not-for-profit organization devoted to ending homelessness and poverty in central New Jersey.

The school has a longstanding relationship with HomeFront, and this is the 27th year that the holiday party has been held. For the past three years, The Pennington School has supplied all of the party elements in huge bags delivered to the HomeFront campus due to pandemic restrictions. There were nearly 180 student, faculty, staff, and parent volunteers on hand to help—entertaining the children, making their guests feel welcome, serving the meal, and directing guests to the various activity venues. There were music, games, and crafts for the children, as well as a visit to Santa Claus with a commemorative photo to take home, according to a press release through The Pennington School.

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Student volunteers at Pennington get ready to read books and share stories with the young guests at the HomeFront holiday party. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PENNINGTON SCHOOL
The highlight of the HomeFront party for everyone was a special visit with Santa Claus. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PENNINGTON SCHOOL

Current Pennington students act as hosts for the visiting families. Parents, faculty, and staff pitch in to help with registration and serve the food; the party includes a full holiday dinner. CulinArt, the school’s dining service, provided a delicious meal of turkey with all the trimmings. DJ Steve Caffey donated his time and talent to entertain at the party as well.

Senior student peer leaders conducted a toy drive among their fellow students during the weeks leading up to the annual event. The toy drive furnishes the inventory for Santa’s Toy Shop, where parents can go to select a gift for each of their children. Parents of the peer leaders manned a gift-wrapping station, so that every guest left the party with a bag of gifts for their family.

Three Christmas trees in the school’s buildings were festooned not with ornaments, but with warm hats, gloves, and scarves that were donated by current families, faculty, and staff and distributed to every family member, as well. Students were proud to have collected and distributed more than 500 gifts this year.

The families served by HomeFront continue to struggle during difficult economic times, says Pennington peer leader advisor Erin O’Connell, and “we are happy to be able to brighten the holiday season a bit, especially for the children.”

Chris Marchetti, director of HomeFront’s Joy, Hopes and Dreams Program, noted that “Pennington was ‘all in’ everywhere I looked.”

Over the years the event has become a cherished tradition at the school, and O’Connell says that “the HomeFront party always means as much to our students as it does to the guests who attend, and we were so happy to be able to bring this tradition back in full force this December.”

The Pennington School is an independent coeducational school for students in grades six through 12, in both day and boarding programs. The curriculum is college preparatory, with an emphasis on individual excellence, fostering the development of the whole student through academics, athletics, community service, and the creative and performing arts.

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