You may not know it, but the wish granting business is hard work! The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-South grants more than 200 wishes every year! There is a lot of work behind the scenes: staff and volunteers devote their time to make this happen, and there are many ways to help. One way to contribute is by volunteering and raising funds at one of their events during the year. This weekend, that’s exactly what I did.
This Saturday, I saw the sunrise for the first time in a long time. It took a lot of effort to pry myself out of bed in the dark and head down to Mississippi for the Race for a Reason 5K. I finally crawled out of bed around 6:15, but by that time, Melonie Goolsby had already been hard at work. Melonie volunteered to run the Honor Society at Southaven Intermediate School and wanted to give her 3rd, 4th and 5th graders a chance to think beyond themselves: “People try to put a limit on what these kids can do, but it’s amazing what they can accomplish if you let them.” The race went off without a hitch, and afterward she asked her Honors students to raise their hands and she praised them for their dedication to Make-A-Wish. The kids beamed. You could tell they were proud of what they had achieved. After hearing the announcement, one of the runners was so inspired that he walked over to Melonie and handed her $100 for Make-A-Wish.
Melonie told me she had two goals for this event: she wanted to teach the kids about philanthropy and raise enough money to grant a wish. I’m sure she is well on her way to accomplishing both.
The Volunteer Coordinator for Make-A-Wish, Marcy Seidel, told me that the success of Make-A-Wish is due in large part to people like Melonie and her students. The Mid-South chapter of Make-A-Wish has more than 400 volunteers that contribute to their mission and some people have been volunteering for more than 20 years! With this in mind, Marcy’s goal is to make sure that every volunteer has a positive experience. She told me that before assigning a task to a volunteer, she always asks herself whether it’s something that she would want to do. I asked Marcy about her hopes for their volunteers and what she wants each person to take away from the experience. Her answer was so eloquent that I dare not paraphrase! “What I want most for my volunteers to take away after volunteering for Make-A-Wish Mid-South is a feeling of accomplishing our mission, which is granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. Our volunteers work with families that don’t have a lot of joy in their lives. These children spend so much time at hospitals and not a lot of time enjoying their young lives. I want my volunteers to feel that they have changed that for a brief time by being a part of bringing joy into these kids’ lives by granting their one true wish.”
How can you ask for a better volunteer experience than that?
How to Help
There are so many ways you can help Make-A-Wish Mid-South!
1) Volunteer at an event. There are numerous events throughout the year that benefit Make-A-Wish and if you’re looking for a one-time commitment, this is a great way to get involved. The next big event, Season of Wishes is December 10-14.
2) Become a Wish Granter! Believe it or not, this is their greatest need for volunteers! Imagine the joy you could bring by being a wish granter! It’s a big responsibility – you’d be planning and coordinating a wish for one of their wish kids, but Marcy said that after you do it once you’re hooked! Apply to volunteer
3) Be an Airport Greeter. Make-A-Wish thinks of everything. As you might imagine, many wishes involve air travel (15 kids fly out this month), but this can be very daunting for a family who has never flown before. Airport greeters meet the family at the airport and walk them through the whole process. If you’re comfortable with flying and knowledgeable about the airport, this is a great way to get involved. Apply to volunteer
4) Serve as an Office Angel. Make-A-Wish relies on their office angels to pitch in at headquarters. While there’s some filing and data entry, you can also help Marcy with volunteer awards or you get to organize the Wish Closet! The Wish Closet is full of toys and costumes used for wish granting and with all the activity, it needs straightening and organizing. Apply to volunteer
5) Donate! Make-A-Wish runs on volunteers and donations. You can make a donation of any size. Donate.
Email Marcy at email@example.com and she’ll help you find the right volunteer opportunity for you.
** Update – Melonie’s students raised $3,500 for Make-A-Wish! They need to raise $1,500 more in order to reach their goal of granting a wish. If you’d like to help them achieve their goal, please contact Melonie by <a href=”Melonie Goolsby ;”>email. **
If you’re thinking about volunteering with this organization or in general, but aren’t quite ready to jump in, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thinking about helping is the first step!
What comes after the 30 Days of Mission Memphis? Volunteer Bound! I’m traveling across the country to promote volunteerism and I want to take you with me!