Mail a letter to Santa at Macy’s to grant children’s wishes

Aimee Brown

Eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, in 1897, asking if Santa really exists. She wrote: “Dear editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says if you see it in the Sun, it’s so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?” It was this letter that inspired the Make-A-Wish Foundation to come together with Macy’s to help kids believe and to support a healing cause.

Centered in every Macy’s is a Santa mail post.  Stationary is provided and children are asked to get out their “crayons, pencil or pen” and write a letter addressed to “Santa at the North Pole.” With every letter deposited, Macy’s will donate one dollar toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation up to $1 million, creating “a million reasons to believe.”  

This is the first year for this particular event,” said Judith Holt, member of the Make-A-Wish team. “The Santa letters are picked up by Make-A-Wish volunteers at all the Macy’s stores once a week, counted and that number is reported to our National office,” said Holt, “Then all the letters are placed in a USPS mail box addressed to the North Pole. So, if you and school friends want to leave a note ‘for Santa’ at any Macy’s, please do so, there is no age limit.” 

“The Believe campaign letters will be accepted through Christmas Eve,” said media relations manager, Brent Goodrich. 

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a place that has supported children suffering from life-threatening illnesses since 1980. Their mission is to “share the power of a wish.  With the help of about 25,000 volunteers, the foundation has been able to reach more than 167,000 children around the world. “We have Make-A-Wish Foundation American which serves every community in the U.S. and then there’s Make-A-Wish Foundation International which are in 30 countries…Canada, Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, and Ireland, we just recently started in Germany, Brazil, Australia, we’re on every continent except for Antarctica,” said Goodrich. 

“We will grant about 260 children a wish in 2009.  We are currently working on about 54,” said Holt, and as you can imagine, it is a very rewarding experience to be a part of a child’s special wish.” 

One thing that is especially helpful to the foundation is a volunteer who is fluent in other languages. “We always have people who can translate because we serve everybody and we don’t want language to be a barrier, that way we don’t have kids not getting their wish,” said Goodrich. Whether serving as wish granters, at fundraisers, as special events assistants, or by simply staying involved, every person helps to contribute to Make-A-Wish’s mission.  

“I’ve been a part of some wishes,” said Goodrich, “the reason we’re here is to bring them some and joy, to help them get through the doctor visits and hospital stays and medical treatments that they’re going through…it’s just amazing to see the impact that is has, not only on the wish kid but also their family.” 

A child requesting for their wish to be granted must be between the ages of two-and-a-half and eighteen. The process for granting a wish is long and is used to prove a patient’s eligibility based on the severity of their medical condition. The length of time also varies due to the desires of the wish kid, “Sometimes they know right away what they want their wish to be and other times it takes two or three visits to find out what their interests are and if there’s anything they wanted in the world, what that’d be,” said Goodrich. As for the outcome experience for the volunteers, Goodrich said, “it’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to see when the wish is granted and the joy and the happiness that the wish kid gets from seeing their fondest wish come true.”

To become a volunteer, or to get involved in this organization, you can go online to their website (www.wish.org) to sign up for volunteer hours, make a donation, or even adopt the wish of a needing child (must be 18 or older), kids under that age are able to help by raising money for the foundation. “People know that our mission’s very simple and that we’re very clear about what we do,” said Goodrich.