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Millbrook students waddle to help Evans Home | Coronavirus


WINCHESTER — A pair of Millbrook High School juniors recently staged a fundraising event worthy of a glowing endorsement from Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

The Winter Waddle aimed to raise $300 for the Henry and William Evans Home for Children Inc. in Winchester. Instead, the two students who organized the event nearly tripled their goal by collecting $1,100.

“We’re very proud of not only the community for helping the Evans Home, but also ourselves because we feel like we did a good job promoting it,” a beaming Ashley Pacheco, 17, said on Tuesday morning.

Ashley and Marisol Aquila, 16, organized the Winter Waddle as an activity for Millbrook’s chapter of the DECA Club, a national organization that fosters future leaders and entrepreneurs.

Jenny Stover, marketing teacher and DECA adviser at Millbrook High School, said Ashley and Marisol suggested staging a fundraiser that would benefit local children. That led them to the Evans Home, a nonprofit residential facility at 330 E. Leicester St. that provides sanctuary to abused and homeless children.

But COVID-19 was determined to derail their plans. Social distancing guidelines necessitated by the pandemic made it impossible to hold an event with a large gathering of people, so instead Ashley and Marisol conceived Winter Waddle Week, a virtual one-mile walk that participants could do at home or in their own neighborhoods anytime from Dec. 19 through 27.

“We wanted to keep it very easy for anyone to participate,” Stover said.

The students designed Winter Waddle T-shirts and sold them online for $20 each, with all proceeds donated to the Evans Home. People who bought a shirt were then asked to share photos from their virtual walks that could be posted on the Millbrook DECA Club’s Facebook page.

“There were some people who aren’t local that bought a shirt,” Marisol said.

Ashley and Marisol said they would have been happy to sell 50 of the light blue T-shirts that featured a drawing of a waddling penguin. Instead, they sold 136.

“It’s absolutely awesome,” Marc Jaccard, executive director of the Evans Home, said on Tuesday. “This has really been a challenging year for us and all kinds of charities, so the fact they chose to do something for us is fabulous. This will go toward our general fund and it will go a long way toward replacing some of the income that we’re not making right now [due to the pandemic]. It’s been a tough year.”

Even more important than the money, Jaccard said, is the example that was set by Ashley and Marisol.

“The inspiration and idea of kids helping kids, we’ve gotten lots of feedback on our website,” he said. “It really has stimulated a whole lot of activity that has been good for the home.”

“It takes a lot during this kind of school year for a student to step above because, with everything going on, they all have so much on their plates and on their minds,” Stover said. “These two did a great, great job. I’m proud of them.”


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