STILLWATER Nearly 600 students at Stillwater Elementary School mailed their Christmas lists to Santa on Wednesday while helping children their own age who are seriously ill.
Each child from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade wrote a letter to Santa and during a special assembly dropped the letter into a large red Macy’s Santa Mail mailbox.
For every letter Macy’s receives in its nationwide “Believe” campaign, the company will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that answers the wishes of seriously ill children.
Macy’s is on course to raise $1 million for Make-A-Wish this holiday season. As of Wednesday, 882,312 letters had been written to Santa, according to the Macy’s website.
“It’s part of our character education program,” said Stillwater Elementary School Principal John Goralski about the special assembly.
He said the program is a way to teach the young students about helping others.
“And this program is great because it’s kids helping kids,” Goralski said.
Goralski said this is the sixth year the school has been involved with the Make-A-Wish program. Students at the school also sold more than 500 Make-A-Wish Angels this season.
“We raised over $1,000 for Make-A-Wish between the two programs,” Goralski said.
“It was a really sweet event,” said Tim Riley, communications director for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York. “It put a nice spin on what has been a difficult season.”
Riley said Macy’s officials brought their large Santa Mail mailbox, the Santa “Believe Meter,” and a big Christmas tree to the 560-student school. The students lined up, holding their letters and one-by-one dropped off their letters after saying hello to Santa Claus, who also paid a visit to the school on North Hudson Avenue.
“It was a kind of old-fashioned Christmas kind of thing. It brought letter-writing to Santa back to the forefront,” Riley said.
Riley said Macy’s will distribute the $1 million to the 60 Make-A-Wish chapters across the United States.
Earlier this month, Make-A-Wish granted a wish to an ailing 12-year-old from Hadley with help from the Macy’s program. Riley said the boy’s wish for a snowmobile was granted during a ceremony at the Macy’s in Crossgates Mall.
Goralski said the Make-A-Wish program hits close to home because a Stillwater Elementary School student was granted a wish several years ago. That student is currently in middle school,
Riley said the local Make-A-Wish chapter grants about 100 wishes per year to seriously ill children. The chapter is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has granted a total of 1,326 wishes.