Your kids have had their holiday wish lists ready for weeks—but you want to make sure they understand that the season is about more than just the gifts they’re getting. One way to help: Granting wishes for less fortunate kids. “It’s a way for parents to show their child that not everyone will have what they will,”says Gary Bagley, executive director of the nonprofit New York Cares. See how that group and two others are helping kids this holiday.
New York Cares
This New York City-wide organization runs volunteer programs that consist of setting up SAT prep for inner city high school kids, or helping recent immigrants prepare for their citizenship exam. Or—in one of their most successful initiatives—granting holiday wishes for 35,000 inner city kids through their Winter Wishes program.
How it works: Partner agencies send wishes to New York Cares, who then distribute them to their volunteers–it could be an individual or an entire corporation—to fulfill. There’s no limit on a price, but generally, wishes cost around $40. Often, recipients go above and beyond, says Bagley. For example, a child who requests a doll might get the doll, plus a set of clothes or other accessories, too. To get involved, visit newyorkcares.org.
Family Giving Tree
When Junior Girl Scout Troop 61080 set up a Family Giving Tree Holiday Wish Drive at their Los Altos, California, elementary school, the response was overwhelming. The troop pinned wishes form kids in need to a tree on the school grounds and encouraged their fellow classmates to choose one and fulfill it. “They ended up collecting 165 gifts for low-income San Francisco Bay Area children, which is really impressive for one school.” says Dawn Frownfelter, host coordinator for the Family Giving Tree.
The organization works with more than 300 shelters, schools, and agencies to help kids, primarily those in the Bay Area (though they’re currently expanding to neighboring states). But their biggest event is the annual Holiday Wish Drive. Cards listing the wish are created and sent to participating local businesses, schools, and organizations that display them in public areas. People choose a wish and pledge to buy a gift–which doesn’t cost more than $30. Family Giving Tree volunteers then work to make sure all the items are accounted for. Learn more at familygivingtree.org.
One Simple Wish
When Danielle Gletow founded One Simple Wish in 2008, her goal was simple: Find a way to bridge the gap between her kids in foster care who need help and the people in the community who want to make a difference but aren’t sure how. “A lot of times kids are removed from their home and moved into a foster home with nothing, so even a new toy they can call their own can help,” says Gletow.
Getting involved is easy: The organization accepts wish requests all year-round and keeps them in a database on their website, which users can search until they find a wish to grant. Wishes are items that range from $5-$500 dollars and can be things like a ticket to a football game or personal care products. One Simple Wish then buys the gift and coordinates with the organization or foster care agency they’ve partnered with to handle fulfillment and delivery. For more, visit onesimplewish.org.