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Winter Wishes Grants Gifts

Haley Keizur, Chief

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As we close out the week leading up to winter break, holiday cheer fills the hallways and Santa’s elves, in the form of leadership kids, race door-to-door, delivering food, treats and other fun gifts.

This event is known as Winter Wishes and is happening for its ninth year. Senior Brooklyn Garrett is one of the many leadership students working to organize this annual school event.

“Winter Wishes was started about nine years ago to help feed families who cannot provide or afford to feed themselves during the holidays. It has branched off into this big school event, where we grant as many wishes as we can. Every student writes a wish and we try to grant as many of those as we can, based solely on donations or money we raise through fundraisers at businesses,” Garrett said.

Many, many hours go into preparing for this day. During Thanksgiving break, the leadership team contacts and visits all the businesses, Garrett said.

“[The leadership team] all splits off into groups [and we do different things]. For example, Emma Stockslager is in charge of basically the entire thing. She has typed out all the wishes and categorized them, then checks them with the other groups to see where we are all at,” Garrett said. “My group was in charge of talking to businesses to see if we could set up in them to do fundraisers. So, we sat at Anthem last Saturday, we sat at Thr3e on Monday and we are going to Anthem again. We are also doing a pass the hat at the game tonight {Dec. 5]. All of us had to contact at least two to three businesses and see if they would be willing to donate.”

Senior Emma Stockslager is in charge of keeping track of each of the contacted businesses and making sure the team follows up with them if they want to donate, she says.

“The main thing [we do] is reaching out to businesses to get donations and fundraising for money so we can actually get the things that the students wished for. Then we have the students wish for all their wishes. Then we organize them based on their [category] so we have the food and everything. From there, we begin to buy things and start Winter Wishes,” Stockslager said.

The leadership team waits until they have raised most of their money before they begin to purchase items. Their goal this year was to raise $10,000, and at the time of this interview, they had raised around $4,000, according to Garrett. Additionally, all the families that need dinner and supplies have been adopted.

“Last year we granted 300 wishes, along with feeding about 30 plus families. You have to adopt a family to provide for [so, clubs and families adopt them and commit to purchasing the items they need] and all families have been adopted and we are working on granting the wishes,” Garrett said.

Once all the fundraising is done, the shopping begins, as Stockslager mentioned. However, majority of the preparation begins the last week before break and the night before, says Garrett.

“We will start to shop with the money, with [Leadership adviser] Jamie Mooring and start getting the stuff in order. [Then we will] start grouping it by which class period we can deliver it in and see, for example all the groups that would fit in with first period,” Garrett said. “We are currently finalizing some of our bigger wishes, like pets, laptops and working on contacting shelters. Most of it comes down to Thursday night and Friday morning. We will just be making sure we have it all and it is grouped out well-enough.”

Stockslager has been involved in Winter Wishes for three years now. She enjoys the ability to make an impact on the community through this event.

“The feeling every year of giving [is wonderful] because we do a lot of stuff for people that actually need things, like dinners and warm clothes, so just the feeling of doing something that really benefits someone during the holiday season, it is really nice, a good feeling.”

Stockslager highlights how this event can be a light in many students’ lives during this time of year.

“Our main thing is bringing back that holiday spirit, that can sometimes be lost in students’ lives because a lot of things happen during the holiday season. Life can be rough and so it is just about bringing a good thing and helping somebody who is going through something and make their holiday season better,” Stockslager said.

Senior Erin Simons received a letterman’s jacket last year for Winter Wishes, one of the 300 gifts handed out.

“I felt really overjoyed and almost honored that they chose my gift to give to me. I feel like it gave me a new perspective on giving back during the holidays, you can always brighten someone’s day by helping them out. No matter how big or small the gift or gesture,” Simons said.

She is grateful for how the event brings the community together and teaches students the importance of giving.

“Winter Wishes teaches students the power of kindness and giving back in a positive way. Spreading love during the holidays is so important and this event really does just that,” Simons said.

Garrett attested to why the event continues to be successful and prevalent in the community.

“It is such a big event just because everyone is involved and everyone knows about it. And it is exciting, it is a great time of the year,” she paused to hum the tune to a well-known holiday song, It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. “Everyone really embraces that. Everyone is excited for Christmas, and if they are not getting a gift at home, it is a good chance for them to get one at school,” Garrett said.

Despite the hard work and preparation that goes into this event, it is a fulfilling way to give back to the school and community. It is important for us, as students, to show how grateful we are and demonstrate our appreciation of others, Garrett says. She would also like to take the opportunity to recognize Mooring and the commitment she puts into this annual event.

“It is important that Mooring has worked so, so, so hard. This is her ninth year doing it and it just grows every year and that is amazing to see,” Garrett said.

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