Bald Eagle

On Centre: Bald Eagle Area | Pumpkin project helps those in need

When it’s time to celebrate their part in a schoolwide community service project, some Bald Eagle Area High School students will have high standards for the party.

Mandy Biddle’s homeroom class raised the most money among classrooms during an annual holiday effort to help local families in need. For this year’s cause, National Honor Society juniors and seniors made and sold paper pumpkins for 50 cents or $5 each.

As their reward for contributing $143 toward the total of $1,000, some in Biddle’s class will receive real pumpkins. Ho-hum, you say?

The fun will be what they do with them.

Next week, any student who contributed at least $20 will have the chance to launch pumpkin missiles into the sky with a trebuchet from the Howard Fire Company. The company uses the medieval-style instruments in its annual Punkin’ Chunkin’ fundraiser at Bald Eagle State Park.

“That was just kind of an incentive to get kids to donate and have a little fun,” Biddle said.

But her students had extra motivation.

“I promised them pancakes,” Biddle said.

Besides being the cook for an upcoming breakfast, Biddle serves as co-adviser, along with Jacy Clark, of the school’s NHS chapter.

For years, Biddle said, the chapter has led the holiday service project, which provides toys, clothing, household items and food to families mostly identified by guidance counselors across the school district. Last year, NHS students made paper turkey feathers.

Thirteen families will benefit from the project this Christmas. As in years past, families anonymously supplied wish lists, and teachers and local residents helped with donations.

On Friday, Biddle and eight NHS students will take their school’s largesse and go shopping to buy anything missing on the lists.

“Which is a lot of fun,” Biddle said. “The kids look forward to that. It just brings the true meaning of Christmas: helping others and being there for your community. It means a lot to us.”

The project still could use gift bags, boxes and wrapping paper. Financial donations, of course, are always welcome, and Biddle can share wish lists for anyone looking to help otherwise. Contact her at or through BEA at 355-4868 by Friday.

One mother with several children, Biddle recalled, wasn’t sure how her family was going to have Christmas until the BEA students came through for them.

“She said, ‘Oh my God, there really is a Santa Claus,’ ” Biddle said.

Just like that, Biddle received a Christmas gift of her own.

“That was really touching to hear that,” she said. “And that’s what it’s all about.”