Downingtown Area School District Has “Hart”

Downingtown Area School District Has "Hart"Students at Downingtown High School West collected supplies for care packages to support their teacher and his squadron stationed in the Middle East. (pictured from left to right: Principal Dr. Kurt Barker, nurse Kim Sapper, Brenden Mascherino, Muhil Vaseekaran, Jordan Reedy, support staff Susan Heffernan, teacher Colleen Levinson, and Assistant Principal Dr. Patricia Bell) Credit: Downingtown Area School District

DOWNINGTOWN, PA — Yesterday’s Valentine’s Day celebration at Downingtown Area School District (DASD) was more about shampoo, sunblock and snacks than candy hearts, boxes of chocolate and flowers.

Daniel Hart, a technology education teacher at Downingtown High School West, has been serving with the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron​ in the Middle East as part of the PA Air National Guard since the summer of 2019. To support his mission, West students are gathering supplies ranging from food to entertainment for the members of his squadron. With each donation, they are sending a note of thanks and encouragement to the troops.

DASD has Hart
Over 1500 items have been collected to support the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron

The project came from the Whippet Wellness Team, who wanted to not only support Mr. Hart, but also include the entire school in the cause. District Assistant Principal and coordinator of the collection, Patricia Bell, remarked, “It is always nice for servicemen to receive packages from home. These are just really big packages filled with love, perfect for Valentine’s Day!”

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Students Brenden Mascherino and Muhil Vaseekaran saw immediate value in the campaign. Together, and with the support of local business Lione’s Pizza, the two created a promotional video to encourage students to donate. Mascherino explained, “We are highly supportive of our US troops and want to do anything we can to support them. Considering the amount of time and work these troops put in for our country, we feel that it is in our best interest to do whatever we can to give back to them.”

So far, students and staff have donated over 1500 items, and they are still counting. Thanks to the generous support of NC Packs4Patriots in North Carolina, the items will ship next Wednesday, free of charge.

Student Vaseekaran added, “At the end of the day, our biggest hope is that our contributions can impact Mr. Hart as much as he has positively impacted the student body at Downingtown West.”

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Across the district, students are teaming up to give back in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Elementary students are participating in the American Heart Association Jump Rope for Heart event and the Kids Heart Challenge, which encourage student health and wellness while raising funds to fight heart disease.

DASD has Hart
Joining students from across the district collection drives, students at Lionville Elementary School collected 248 coats for Cradles to Crayons, a non-profit that provides children with life essentials.

Students also collected 248 coats for Cradles to Crayons and ran a food drive for the Chester County Food Bank.

At Lionville Middle School, students participated in a “Heart Health” student in-service.  With a focus on a healthy heart, students enjoyed large group exercise, an obstacle course, fitness stations and a meditation/relaxation session. Students also recognized the power of positive words in emotional heart health, and created motivational positive messages.

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DASD has Hart
Students as Lionville Middle School participated in large group exercise, an obstacle course and fitness stations to promote a healthy heart.

Supporting causes both near and far, DASD students are spreading love, kindness and caring this Valentine’s Day.

Downingtown West will be accepting both monetary and supply donations through Tuesday, February 18. To learn more about accepted donations or to schedule a drop-off, please contact Assistant Principal Patricia Bell at [email protected] To watch the promotional video, visit

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