One of the most impactful ways that Owensboro can give back to others during the Christmas season is by participating in WBKR’s Christmas Wish Program. For 42 years, the radio station has made it their goal that every tri-state area child will receive presents and a hot meal for Christmas.
The Christmas Wish headquarters are located in Towne S quare Mall near JC Penney and everything within has been donated by generous community donors. The copy machines are donated by Lang Office Equipment), the tables by Bakos Party Rentals and Greenwell Chisholm Printing Company created the signs by the door.
This year, over 4,000 children and teenagers will receive Christmas presents because of the Christmas Wish program and the tireless spirit of its volunteers and financial donors.
Families started receiving gifts on Wednesday, Dec.19 and will continue to receive their gifts through this Christmas weekend.
Each year, Christmas Wish works with local schools and other agencies, like Toys for Tots, Goodfellows and the Salvation Army, to identify families of greatest need.
“Poverty is real and people don’t realize it unless they see it,” Christmas Wish Director Barb Birgy said.
Without organizations like Christmas Wish, more than 1,200 families in the local area might not be able to give their children a nice Christmas.
Local families can participate by donating their time, money, toys, gifts or by adopting a family to buy presents for.
Every person who makes Christmas Wish happen is a volunteer, and 100% of donated items, including funding, go directly to purchasing gifts or a meal for a family.
Birgy said that one of the countless touching stories from this year’s program was the compassion and kindness shown by a 12-year old girl. This young girl wrote a detailed letter to nominate a family that her mother babysits for, describing their living situation and circumstances with heartfelt concern.
This same spirit of compassion and giving is exemplified through Christmas Wish.
The community support in fundraising and providing donated items is significant. Owensboro Grain Company matches the amount its employees donate to Christmas Wish, for a total of $7,645 this year.
Local businesses, like US Bank, volunteer their time to organize toys, to answer phones and to help anything else the organization needs.
Restaurants including Fetta Specialty Pizza & Spirits, Chick-fil-A, PizzAroma, Salsarita’s Fresh Mexican Grill, Firehouse Subs, Raising Cane’s, Papa John’s and Arby’s donate meals to the volunteers who put in long hours at the Christmas Wish headquarters sorting and preparing gifts. Additionally, Culver’s, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Donatos Pizza, Maloney’s, PizzAroma, and Raising Cane’s all hosted fundraisers at their restaurants to give a portion of their sales to Christmas Wish.
Each contribution to the cause is meaningful and appreciated, especially those who give to the hot Christmas dinner for Christmas Wish families. The following businesses donated supplies and food for that meal: the Daviess County Pork Producers, Perdue Farms, Swedish Match, and Kimberly-Clark Paper Company.
“It’s important to know that every dollar donated goes directly to the children,” Birgy said with a smile.
Toy donations and financial contributions are welcomed year-round, as Christmas Wish shops all year to get the best value for the dollars donated. For more information on how to help, email [email protected]