Wishes large and small will be granted Friday.
Merced High School is holding its fourth annual Winter Wishes Rally during two morning assemblies in the school gym. About 80 wishes have been submitted and Haydée Arreola-Tovar, activities director, is hoping many can be granted.
"Overall, it's a good experience for students, the ones putting it together and the ones benefiting," Arreola-Tovar said. "Over the past three years, Winter Wishes has granted over 300 wishes."
Jon Schaefer, Merced High's associate principal for student support, said the Winter Wishes Rally has a tremendous impact on school culture, for students and staff members.
"It creates an environment of generosity and sincerity," said Schaefer, who oversees student athletics and activities. "It reminds everyone it is better to be selfless rather than selfish. It makes you proud to work with these young people."
Arreola-Tovar said that the wishes event is organized and carried out by 37 students in her leadership class. This year, they collected between $4,000 and $5,000 to grant wishes, and she hopes they will be able to fulfill even more next year.
Principal John Olson said the Winter Wishes Rally is a wonderful event and a great thing for the school. Organizers give away as much as they can, he added.
The school also holds a Penny Wars fund-raiser and the $738 collected through that effort will go toward granting wishes, Arreola-Tovar said. One student, whose father died last year, had wished for a headstone for his dad's grave and that wish will be granted.
"I'm proud to be a part of the Bear family," Schaefer said. "All students are on their best behavior at the rallies. This really brings everybody together."
Arreola-Tovar said four students will receive gift cards to local grocery stores to help out their families. She praised community members for their help with the rally.
Merced High's Winter Wishes Rally was inspired by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Each student on campus has a chance to make a wish, and the organizers' goal is to grant as many of these wishes as possible, Arreola-Tovar said.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.