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“Wish Week” honored with Philanthropy Award

Raise $2,500 in one week: That was the task Make-A-Wish Arizona set for the seven students in Williams Field High School’s newly formed “Wish Week” Committee last year at the Gilbert school in the Higley Unified School District.

Students brainstormed a flurry of ideas and made them reality for the sake of an unknown child’s wish. The school community responded to the efforts, and a short two days into the week an increased goal of $5,000 was met. Then the money accumulated to $7,000, then $10,000 and, by the end of the week, more than $11,000 was donated to Make-A-Wish Arizona.

The effort garnered the appreciation of Make-A-Wish Arizona, which nominated the school for recognition and on Nov. 7, Williams Field High School’s student council will be honored with the 2018 Outstanding Youth/Student Philanthropy Award by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown. The school tied for contributing the biggest donation among Arizona campuses.

Williams Field 2018 graduates Katie Marqueling and Kemma Goudreau were both key contributors in creating the successful “Wish Week” campaign. As members of Make-A-Wish Arizona’s Youth Leadership Council - a newly formed group last school year - they were in charge of hosting a week full of nonstop fundraisers at their high school. They organized a new group, the Make-A-Wish Committee, within the Williams Field High School student council to help accomplish the objectives.

Marqueling said the award given by AFP is not just about the work of the Make-A-Wish Committee and student council, but also the culture of the community at Williams Field High School.

“When planning the week, nobody knew how successful it was going to be, but the events were because of the people around us,” Marqueling said. “The money raised by the community is enough to grant one wish, and that wish doesn't just affect that child, it affects everyone in the process: Their family, doctors, and, most importantly, the people who donated money.”

Beverly Peden, student council advisor, said that Marqueling, Goudreau and the committee spearheaded the week with a variety of activities that targeted the school and local community.

“We collected money at a variety of events like bingo night, staff versus student basketball game and talent show. We also had an online fundraiser, sold Make-A-Wish T-shirts, and partnered with a local restaurant, Lucky Lou’s,” Peden said. “Along with our staff and student support, we counted on our community members and parents, as well. The only way we were able to pull this off was with an entire group effort.”