Mitchell student gathers Santa letters to raise money for Make-A-WishMacy's Believe Campaign donates money for every letter.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell student raised $1,446 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, all in a week’s time.
Makenzi Reid, a senior at Second Chance Alternative High School, asked fellow students last week to write letters to Santa. Why? To give back.
Macy’s Believe Campaign started Nov. 5. The national department store chain is giving $2 to Make-A-Wish for every letter to Santa that was received by Friday, National Believe Day. Macy’s will continue accepting letters until Dec. 25 and will give $1 for every letter received, up to $1 million nationwide. Macy’s in Sioux Falls has a Believe Station where letter-writers can drop their letters.
Last year, South Dakota produced more than 11,000 letters.
Reid’s idea spread beyond her English classroom at the MTI north campus to classrooms around Mitchell.
Reid received letters from Mitchell Middle School, Mitchell High School, Abbott House and Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton. Not only did students write letters, teachers and counselors also wrote letters.
“It’s a way to give back, for them to take five minutes of their time to be a little kid again and write a letter to Santa,” Reid said.
Reid is a member of the Second Chance High Interact Rotary Club, a student club through Rotary International. The letter-writing campaign serves as a community service program through Interact, said Shane Thill, director of Second Chance High, which is a high school for at-risk students.
“I got my inspiration from a child here in Mitchell,” Reid said. “Actually, it was Shane’s nephew.”
Mason VanWey, 9, has epilepsy and autism. Last summer, Make-A-Wish granted him a wish and sent him to Chattanooga, Tenn., where he stayed at the Choo Choo Hotel and was a junior conductor for a day on a train. He and his family stayed in a renovated train car, went on two train rides and visited the Creative Discovery Museum and an aquarium.
Reid wrote a letter, with some help from fellow Interact members and her English teacher, and sent it to local classes.
“This is all voluntary,” she said. “So I was really happy with the response.”
From the middle school alone, Reid received 300 letters. In all, she gathered 723.
“Many were meaningful, but some were fun, too,” she said. “Some asked for love, world peace, their family to be together at Christmas and their dad to come home for Christmas.”
During her time at Second Chance High, Reid has always set goals for herself, she said, particularly to give back, which is the mission at the alternative high school.
“They learn to give back and be a part of the community,” Thill said. “Hopefully others will be inspired by Makenzi and her actions show the power of one.”
After graduation, Reid hopes to finish her general courses in Mitchell and then attend Southeast Technical Institute to become an ultrasound technician. She also hopes to continue giving back to her community.
“It made me feel really good to reach my goal and give back, and it felt good to make a difference,” she said. “That money will help pay for one, maybe two kids’ wishes.”
Students at Gertie Belle Rogers, Longfellow and L.B. Williams elementary schools, and John Paul II Elementary School, also wrote letters on their own for Macy’s Believe Campaign. L.B. Williams students wrote 131 letters, Gertie Belle Rogers and Longfellow students wrote 304 letters, and John Paul II students wrote 153. Those letters also were submitted by Friday, raising $2 per letter, or $1,176.