The joy of the holiday season could be seen on the faces of many children on Nov. 18 when Dayton’s chapter of A Special Wish Foundation hosted its annual Holiday Open House.
The holiday party has been a long-running tradition for A Special Wish as they host not only their Wish Kids, but each child’s entire family. Every year the annual open house partners with Wright State University and a generous, yet anonymous, donor. This past Friday the event went off without a hitch in the atrium at Wright State’s Student Union.
For over 20 years, ASW has thrown this free event for their Wish Families. The night begins with games and prizes donated and run by the Holy Angels Junior Optimists Club, with pizza, punch, and dessert donated by WSU. As the room began to fill with more and more families, every child in attendance was given a bracelet to visit the toy table. ASW provides a toy to not only the Wish Kids in attendance, but one a toy given to child in their family as well. “It’s the perfect way to kick off the holiday season! We bring together our Wish Kids for a night of family fun with Santa and all the joys of the holidays,” said Dave Seyer, ASW executive director.
With a staff of three people, ASW depends on the overwhelmingly generous time and support donated by their volunteers. From start to finish, ASW had dozens of volunteers there to help the Holiday Party Open House run seamlessly. “Volunteers are crucial to any nonprofit organization. ASW is lucky to have one of the hardest working, most dedicated groups of volunteers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” said Allison Cox, development and special events manager.
This year’s large team of volunteers included Wright State students, Dayton Children’s Hospital staffers, Kentner Sellers employees, Capabilities Inc., 4 Paws for Ability and several other local community leaders and Board members who were ready and willing to give of their time. Another highlight of the evening was provided by a group of dedicated students from the University of Dayton’s Distance 4 Dreams program. The students donned character costumes and dressed as Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Olaf from the movie “Frozen.”
Entertainment this year included Giggles & Grins Clown Alley, ImaginArt Designs face painting, The Amazing Alto the magician, and Scott Trochelman with Don’t Bug Me bug Show, who brought in a display of interesting insects and bug facts. New at this year’s event was the performance group The Rebel Legion. They are one of only a handful of “Star Wars” costuming groups recognized by Disney and Lucasfilm LTD., and they continue in their dedication to advancing charity work within the community. Also new this year was Christian Clothier Photography. He was able to not only capture the party’s event photos, but also took individual pictures of children sitting with Santa, the highlight of the evening. ASW’s Holiday Open House has, for the last several years, been honored with the arrival of Storytelling Santa Claus. Santa walked in wearing his red velvet coat, elves in tow, to a room full of joyful giggles and the excitement of many. Santa was able to stay for the entire party and visit with any child who wished to meet him.
As the year creeps closer to an end, A Special Wish Foundation — Dayton wraps up its Annual Fund campaign. ASW grants approximately 55 wishes every year, and helps to reintroduce hope and happiness to remarkable children and families. Although, it would be impossible to place a value on the impact of making dreams come true, you can make a difference by making a gift today. All wishes granted to area children offer moments of laughter and smiles — even tears of joy — memories that will last forever. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering for A Special Wish Foundation, go online to www.aspecialwishdayton.org.