Winter Wish was born! Recipient family names were given to Soroptimist volunteers who contacted the families (some living in cars) to assess their needs. Clothing, blankets, and other necessities were purchased with money donated by the sponsoring organizations and individuals that were contacted.
Naturally, the word spread! All of the schools in the district made it known that they had needy families, too. So Winter Wish grew! The gifts given the first few years were clothing or other necessities only.
Although the volunteers of Soroptimist International of Beaumont and their friends remain the driving forces behind Winter Wish, all the service clubs, many businesses, churches and other groups and hundreds of individuals support the project with time, effort, money and the purchase of gifts (wishes). Winter Wish has become a truly worthwhile community-wide all-volunteer project.
Teachers in the schools have the best first-hand knowledge of who might need assistance because they see the children on a daily basis as well as have conferences with parents and may be aware of home situations. Winter Wish accepts the names from the teachers or other school personnel such as attendance clerks, secretaries, tutors and aides.
Volunteers contact the parent of each child whose name is submitted. If the parent accepts the offer for them to be a Winter Wish family, each child in the household who is attending elementary or high school or younger is listed. The volunteer gets information as to a first and second choice of clothing need (still the primary emphasis) and a suggestion for a non-clothing gift (under $15). The parent is also asked if there are household needs such as blankets, sheets, towels, heaters, dishes, etc. These items may be purchased if money allows.
The needs and suggestions (wishes) are put on tags and are usually ready by early November for distribution to individuals and groups who want to buy the gifts. If individuals and groups do not buy all of the “wishes”, volunteer shoppers fill the leftover “wishes” by buying gifts with donated money, thus assuring that each Winter Wish child gets at least two gifts. If enough money is donated, the volunteers fill the requests for blankets, sheets, towels, heaters and similar household needs for first time participants. Winter Wish does not address the subject of gifts for the adults in the family. For several years food collected in a community food drive has been given to the Winter Wish families.