Football coach leads charge for holiday gift donations for students in need

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Monday, November 28, 2022
Football coach leads charge for holiday gift donations for students
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The West Chester University community is following their football coach's holiday playbook, donating gifts to the unaccompanied homeless and foster youth.

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- During the holiday season, West Chester University Football Head Coach Bill Zwaan leads the charge to collect donations for students in need.

The idea came from his family about seven years ago.

"I have 10 brothers and sisters and for years, we exchanged presents. And we kind of ran out of ideas after a while," said Zwaan. "So, when we heard about the Promise Program, which helps the students who are housing-insecure, we decided to give them gifts instead of exchanging gifts between ourselves."

The West Chester University Promise Program serves unaccompanied homeless and foster youth with a variety of programs, free supplies from the resource pantry, and most importantly, year-round housing.

Students like 21-year-old Victor Stewart are grateful for the opportunity.

"I qualified for the Promise Program because my mother died earlier in 2018, so I've been an independent student since I came here," he said. "The Promise Program gave me housing because I needed somewhere to stay and they gave me lots of resources."

And the cherry on top at the end of the year are holiday gifts that come from Zwaan and his team of family, friends, students, faculty, and more. Students like Stewart will receive hats, sweatshirts, gloves, scarves, and most importantly, gift cards during the end-of-year holiday party.

"I will find myself needing things and I didn't have the money for it. But I remember that I had all of those gift cards, and I made use of all of them," said Stewart. "It felt like a weight was lifted off of me. All I had to worry about was going to school and getting good grades."

Coach Zwaan is asking for gifts to be sent in by December 12, 2022, but noted that students are in need of support like this year-round.

Donations may be mailed to Bill Zwaan at the WCU Football Office, 850 S. New St, West Chester, Pa. 19383. To learn how you can help in other ways, contact Zwaan at wzwaan@wcupa.edu or Ian Davis at idavis@wcupa.edu.

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