NEW YORK CITY — A Tharrington Primary School second-grade teacher has jump started a holiday project where children can make a difference to other children with their letters to Santa Claus.
A total of 208 letters were taken to Macy’s Department Store in New York City recently by Chelsey Beverly and dropped off in the store’s huge red mailbox set up specially for its Believe project to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The effort raised $416 dollars for the foundation because Macy’s donated $1 for each letter up to $1 million which is also matched by the Ralph Lauren company up to $25,000.
According to Macy’s website, this is the third year of the Believe campaign. Macy’s officials indicated the first two years of the effort have collected more than 2.5 million letters. The official campaign began on Nov. 7 nationally. Believers of all ages are invited to drop off letters, stamped and addressed to Santa At The North Pole.
“Admittedly, I am a shopper,” said Beverly as she explained how the idea occurred to her. “I really do enjoy shopping. My mother, Kim, and I had been to New York before and so I thought I always ask my students to write a letter to Santa so it seemed a natural thing to do.”
Beverly said the project had an important lesson for her students at its core.
“I think it’s an important lesson to teach children,” said Beverly. “We talked about how we could give back to children that are suffering. They were excited that they could make a difference. Too often they feel I’m a child. I’m too young. What can I do to help.”
She said she was surprised at the chord it struck with students, families and staff at the school. She said this is her first year at Tharrington. She indicated she has organized efforts at other schools to send packages to actively serving veterans and letters to veterans hospital patients.
“I started out just getting letters from my class,” added Beverly. “Pretty soon teachers and students’ siblings from other schools were asking if they could send letters so I thought why not open it up to the whole school. Everybody was on board.”
Beverly said she thought the enthusiasm was fueled by children who were doing something for other children. There was a real connection there.
“Children can relate to what it’s like to be a kid,” theorized Beverly. “Our students could imagine what it was like to be in that sick child’s shoes and know it could be them. They have that heart of believing. They related to this cause in a different way. It was a dynamic and reviving experience (for me).”
She recalled how students had questions of how the letters would reach Santa from Macy’s. Beverly said when she found out the letters don’t require real stamps she encouraged students to make their own stamp-sized stickers for the letters. One student, a little girl, was particularly concerned the letters had to get to the North Pole.
“She made a sticker with Santa Claus North Pole written on it,” said Beverly. “I placed all the individual letters in a large envelope so they could be carried easier. She came to me and said to make sure her sticker was put on the big envelope so it would get there. Those letters were heavy. I know what Santa feels like carrying his pack now.”
She explained the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions in an effort to bolster everyone with the message of hope, strength and joy. According to information from the foundation, it was founded in 1980 by a group of volunteers who helped a young boy fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
The foundation has 64 chapters in the United States and its territories with nearly 25,000 volunteers. It is estimated the group grants a wish every 40 minutes and has granted more than 200,00 wishes in the United States since it began. Persons may obtain more information on the foundation at wish.org.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.