Chicora Gift-Giving Project Archives | Ashley Hall

Part angel and elf rolled into one, Dana Van Hook has spearheaded the Chicora Gift-Giving Project at Ashley Hall since 1999 and has helped share the spirit of this special season with approximately 3,000 Chicora Elementary students over this 18-year period.   
The Chicora Gift-Giving Project features a carefully assembled gift bag given to each student by Santa Claus himself at a special assembly at Chicora. The bag includes approximately 10 gifts: a new school uniform; toiletry items; new books based on the student’s reading level; and a special toy. Most importantly, the bags also include a personalized note from Santa with help from Ashley Hall students! “There is no agenda to the program and absolutely no overhead. 100% of everything is donated and comes from our amazing Ashley Hall community. The gifts given to these precious children takes pressure off their families during what is, for many, a financially challenging time of year. It fills my heart with a refreshed sense of joy every year,” said Dana.

This special holiday service project is embraced by students, faculty, parents, and Ashley Hall alumnae alike. Lively gift-giving assemblies are held in the Lower and Upper School with girls sharing presents and alumnae bring gifts to their Holiday party to contribute to the cause. Dana supplements contributions by shopping sales throughout the year, including buying Christmas cards the day after Christmas from the Dollar Store! Beginning the week prior to Thanksgiving, a special warehouse is donated for sorting of the inventory and bagging. Approximately 80 volunteers are involved in the bag assembly including Ashley Hall faculty/staff, 25 Upper School students, Chicora faculty members, and friends. Bags will then be transported to Chicora Elementary by bus—the large Ashley Hall 40-seater bus and 20 personal cars.

Thank you to all, especially Dana, for sharing your hearts with the children of Chicora Elementary School each December! 

A heartfelt “thank you” to all of our families and alumnae who supported the Chicora Elementary School gift-giving campaign. This morning in North Charleston, 568 bags filled to the top with new toys, books, school supplies and uniforms, were distributed to our young friends at Chicora. Over 20 cars acted as “sleighs” behind the big Ashley Hall activity bus which was packed to the ceiling with gift bags. A huge PQV to EEC Director and Santa’s special elf, Dana VanHook, and her team of incredible volunteers who pulled this huge effort off seamlessly for the 17th year. The best part of the visit—seeing the children’s faces light up when seeing Santa Claus and a gift bag with their name on it! We believe! Do you?  

For the 16th year, Ashley Hall has joyfully supported a campus-wide holiday gift-giving project for Chicora Elementary School located in North Charleston, where 95% of the student body is at, or below, poverty level. Nearly every Ashley Hall girl got into the spirit this year by bringing toys or clothes for these children. It took 26 cars and three small buses to transport the goodies to Chicora Elementary. Through the gracious support of the Ashley Hall community, nearly 500 children were given the gift of Christmas!

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Ashley Hall is a K-12 independent school for girls, with a co-ed preschool, committed to a talented and diverse student population. We consider for admission students of any race, color, religion, and national or ethnic origin.