The Penn London Elementary Parent Teacher Association organized a Holiday Shop Thursday, Dec. 11 and Friday, Dec. 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the PLE cafeteria.The event included a used book sale, a gingerbread competition, crafts, entertainment, pizza and more.

Celeste Metcalfe and Ruth Iaia, the Holiday Shop committee chairs, were the brains behind the operation. They decided that they didn't want to charge money for the crafts this year, so they did everything for the families and not to benefit themselves, said Metcalfe. They also added the gingerbread competition and other activities for families to do after they shopped.

"I wanted the families to mingle and talk about what they got and enjoy the whole two hours while they were there," said Metcalfe. "Not just shop, eat and then leave."

She said she dressed up as a gingerbread man and went into the PLE cafeteria during lunch leading up to the event to promote the gingerbread competition, which saw 53 gingerbread house entries and four lucky winners. The houses were judged anonymously on their originality, appearance, choice of materials, use of materials and difficulty of design, said Metcalfe.

There was also a North Pole Poll, an idea that Metcalfe brought to the event this year, in which children could cast their vote for which reindeer would "guide Santa's sleigh." Rudolph won with 129 votes.

"Alexa Hart, [a PTA member and committee chairperson], pulled together a used book sale that raised $400 for a couple of local families in need over the holidays," said Madelyn Alvarino Farina, co-president of the PLE PTA.

The items that were sold in the Holiday Shop ranged in price from 25 cents to $13.50 and included "Grandpa" and "Dad" ice scrapers, lip gloss, mood rings, mood necklaces, a snowman caroler's bell, bracelets, spiked soft footballs, a Phillies bear, Phillies towels and a leather travel bag, among many others. Together, there were 106 different items for sale. Red and white poinsettias were also up for sale both nights.

More than 60 parent and student volunteers helped out at the event. Their jobs ranged from picking up donations to dressing up in festive costumes and entertaining the families that attended.

Businesses that donated prizes included BJ's, Lowe's, Wawa, Acme, Starbucks, WalMart, Home Depot, CVS, Giant, Apple-bee's, Boomer's, Chisel Creek Country Club, Perkins, Game Stop and Pretzel Factory. These donations became door prizes and gingerbread competition prizes. About $806 in gift cards and products was awarded to families who attended the Holiday Shop.

"The kids had a blast as did the many volunteers [who] pitched in to help," said Farina. "It was so worth it to see how proud and happy they were to buy a little something for their moms and the rest of their families."

For more information about the PLE PTA and the events they organize, visit www.plepta.org.

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