|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD The Class of 2008 Student Council at Westfield State College is striving to do something unprecedented to grant three wishes for the Make A Wish Foundation of Massachusetts by their gradation in May.
Having raised over $10,000, they have provided the funds to grant two local children their wishes. Prompted by their enthusiasm and previous success, the council decided to set the bar higher than their sister class the Class of 2006, from whom they inherited the cause and raise funds for a third wish.
In an effort to raise the $6,000 required for a wish the council has raised approximately $1,700 thus far, according to Council President Michael Primeau the council has declared the month of March "Make A Wish Month." A variety of fundraising activities have been scheduled and students have been collecting donations from the Westfield community.
"We've always strived for greatness and wanted to achieve something no other class has done before," Primeau said of their campaign.
He explained that since granting their first wish to a three-year-old child who asked to go to Disney World with his family for a week, the council has been eager to help provide happy memories for more children.
"Until you experience it you would have no idea the level of satisfaction you gain when you really see the fruits of your labor," Primeau said, adding that council members met the family at the airport to help them with their baggage, check-in and to distribute "in-flight goodie bags" to the child and his sibling.
"It makes it a better experience for the family and child and helps us not to lose sight of what we're really doing," Primeau said of meeting the family at the airport for their departure and arrival.
Peg Wheble, development officer for the Make A Wish Foundation of Massachusetts, explained that funds are not raised with any particular child in mind. Sponsors raise the $6,000 required for each wish and are then sent paperwork on a variety of local children who are ready to have their wishes granted. The interest group then has the opportunity to choose which wish they would like to grant.
Wheble explained that wishes are granted to children across Massachusetts, ages two-and-a-half to 18, who have life threatening illnesses. She added that last year 52 wishes were granted throughout four categories: "I wish to go." "I wish to have." "I wish to be." "I wish to meet."
She said that having raised the $6,000 required for the second wish, the council will be matched with a child in the near future.
Wheble said upon working with the Class of 2008 Student Council she has seen in them a "unique" work ethic and dedication to the foundation and the children it serves.
"I'm really impressed with them," Janet Gebelt, co-advisor to the Class of 2008 Student Council and associate professor of psychology, said. "I've been impressed with their commitment to community service. This group is an incredible group of responsible people with good moral character. It's been the most rewarding service on campus."
Gebelt said that upon this 11-member council's graduation in May, the Class of 2010 Student Council has agreed to continue their campaign for the Make A Wish Foundation of Massachusetts.
Fundraising events have included the "Wish Upon A Star" campaign to which faculty and staff can donate to the foundation and write their name on a star adorning the dining commons. There will also be a raffle in the coming weeks and donations from the community are also being welcomed.
"It will be phenomenal [to grant a third wish]," Primeau said. "We won't sleep until we do it!"
To make donations to the Class of 2008's Make A Wish Month, mail checks payable to the Make A Wish Foundation c/o Westfield State College Class of 2008. Donations should be mailed to: Class of 2008 c/o Barbara Hand, Westfield State College, 577 Western Ave., Westfield, MA 01086.
For more information about the Make A Wish Foundation of Massachusetts visit http://mass.wish.org.