With Christmas around the corner, it’s the season for giving and both Hoxsie and Randall Holden Elementary Schools have taken that message to heart, with each participating in recent fundraisers to help out the Make A Wish Foundation.
The schools have teamed up with local resident Frank Picozzi, best known for his elaborate Christmas light shows and holiday displays, who collects donations throughout the shows and donates them to a selected charity, which this year is Make A Wish.
In honor of the students’ efforts, Picozzi will alter his light show Saturday to design a tribute to the schools for their generosity.
“I’ve done the display for six years. This is the first time I’ve worked with the schools,” said Picozzi, who has a grandson that attends Hoxsie. “I just stumbled onto the technology, and with the ability for animated displays, I started searching the web. It started as a hobby, but as it went on, more and more people came. It’s my gift to the community.”
But Picozzi said it’s not about him; he wants to recognize the students at Holden and Hoxsie who decided to hold their own fundraisers and contribute the money as part of his Make A Wish donation.
He said the idea came out of a Facebook conversation he was having with Hoxsie PTA co-president Pam Sayles a couple of months ago.
“She thought it was a good idea to do,” he said.
As a Feinstein School, Sayles said Hoxsie students “do good deeds all the time, at least once a month.”
“It’s a very giving school,” she said. “No matter what the kids come up with, they work with different charities, and they really rally.”
Sayles said for this particular fundraiser, the school is holding “Twin Day” on Friday, where students are allowed to dress up the same as a friend, or even a whole class wearing the same color, with the donation of $1.
“Frank is a great guy, always willing to help at the school, so it’s nice to give back to someone the kids know,” she said. “They love helping out in the community.”
While Picozzi was aware Hoxsie would be doing a fundraiser in conjunction with his own, he said it was a complete surprise when a Holden PTA member came and dropped off a check for $140 toward the Make A Wish donation.
“Holden did it on their own. I was totally shocked when they came by with the check, which was great because donations are down this year,” Picozzi said, adding that he leaves a donation box in front of his house for those watching his light shows.
Holden PTA member Anthony Hoyle said the Holden fundraiser was called the Make A Wish Star, in which for $1 students were able to write a wish on a star and post it at the school. The money raised would then be contributed to Picozzi’s Make A Wish donation.
“Frank does a lot of things for us at the school,” Hoyle said. “We thought donating to the [Make A Wish] organization would be more meaningful for him than anything we could do for him.”
Like Hoxsie, Hoyle said Holden does various things to help out the community, such as donating 600 canned goods to the local food bank.
“They helped out Sandy Hook last year, so this year they wanted to do something else,” Hoyle said.
On Saturday night, Picozzi said he will have an announcement and scroll a tribute message to the schools as part of his light display.
“I’ll play a few songs and I have these two characters, Jingles and Bells, who will be talking in cartoonish voices,” he said. “I also have a half-circle fan that can do different designs and scroll words.”
Picozzi said following the New Year, he’ll gather up all the donations and send the checks off to the Make A Wish Foundation.
“I want to thank the schools for their generous donations,” he said. “It’s great that the students and PTAs are doing this.”