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

WESTCHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — During the holiday season, West Chester University Football Head Coach Bill Zwaan is leading the effort to raise funds for students in need.

The idea came from his family about seven years ago.

“I have 10 brothers and sisters and we exchanged gifts for years. And after a while we kind of ran out of ideas,” said Zwaan. “So when we heard about the Promise program, which helps students who don’t have a home, we decided to give them gifts instead of exchanging gifts with each other.”

West Chester University’s Promise program serves unaccompanied homeless and foster youth with a variety of programs, free pantry supplies, 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 passed away in early 2018, so I’ve been an independent student since I came here,” he said. “The Promise program gave me housing because I needed housing and they have provided me with many resources.”

And the icing on the cake at the end of the year are Christmas gifts from Zwaan and his team of family, friends, students, faculty and more. Students like Stewart receive hats, sweatshirts, gloves, scarves, and most importantly, gift cards during the year-end Christmas celebration.

“I’m going to find that I need things and I didn’t have the money for them. But I remember having all these gift cards and using them all,” Stewart said. “It felt like a load had been lifted from me. All I had to worry about was going to school and getting good grades.”

Coach Zwaan asks that gifts be sent in by December 12, 2022, but noted that students need support like this throughout the year.

Donations can be made to Bill Zwaan at the WCU Football Office, 850 S. New St, West Chester, Pa. 19383, to be sent. To find out how you can help in other ways, contact Zwaan at or Ian Davis at

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