By David Yarger
The tradition of giving back at Niagara-Wheatfield High School continues on a daily basis. Come Saturday, the Falcons and the National Honor Society will host a basket auction and vendor sale to raise money for Niagara Hospice.
The event, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. will host around 40 local vendors, with merchandise attendees can purchase; a basket auction with close to 100 baskets; and food and drinks to purchase.
N-W National Honor Society Adviser Beth Pyskaty said local businesses and the community have been generous with donations toward the event.
The fundraiser is one of many community service initiatives the NHS takes part in on a yearly basis.
Students in NHS represent the four pillars of the group – scholarship, leadership, community service and character – in addition to being students who donate their time to quality causes like the one Saturday. Students must apply for NHS and then be accepted. Pyskaty said N-W’s NHS was given a national award for the 6,000-plus hours of community service it put forth last year. The award was given to just five branches across the country.
“We have around 130 members who must do a minimum of 30 community service hours. If you multiply 130 times 30, that’s 3,900 hours. We were over 6,000. A lot of Western New York organizations benefitted from the service of National Honor Society. … I think it’s the heart of the Falcons, and that’s what makes this such a special place; that they come together and work to make the community a better place,” Pyskaty said.
The Niagara Hospice website states, “Hospice is a way of caring for patients with end-of-life illnesses and supporting their family and loved ones through the illness and dying process. At Niagara Hospice, we believe every day is a gift and we value quality of life for each and every patient. As the only hospice provider in Niagara County, our staff and volunteers take pride in their compassionate service to others. Just one call to Niagara Hospice provides loved ones the physical, emotional, psychosocial, spiritual and bereavement care they need.”
Discussing what organization the NHS would donate to, Pyskaty said choosing Niagara Hospice was a bit of an emotional one.
“My mother passed away at hospice in December,” Pyskaty said. “When I came back and said, ‘Hey, we need to start thinking about our fundraiser,’ all the officers said ‘Niagara Hospice.’ I think it was a way that they all wanted to make me feel better.”
Additionally at the event, the NHS will sell paper butterflies to be displayed in the front hallway of the high school. Pyskaty said people have put the names of loved ones who have recently passed or are fighting for their lives on the butterflies as a way to honor and support them.
Pyskaty added that her mother loved to write greeting cards, so with “Pat’s Project,” the NHS has written greeting cards that will be sold at the event.
The group will also remember Ann Moore, who was very close the NHS’s hearts. Moore, who retired as a social studies teacher at N-W, passed away at hospice. To remember Moore, the society will sell little crafted figures named “Annie’s Angels.”
“All of us have been touched one way or another by this. Many kids come up to me and have said, ‘Oh, my grandfather was in Hospice,’ or ‘Oh, my grandmother was in hospice.’ It’s the care and compassion that hospice gives, and that’s invaluable to the patient and the families,” Pyskaty said. “This (event) is a nice way to remember that we need these services. We all deal with this at one point or another.”
Of her group, Pyskaty said, “It’s so nice to be a part of something with members who are so motivated to do such great things.”
For further information regarding Saturday’s event, call 215-3616.