Healthy kids help dying kids get their wish Girl, 7, leads fund drive at school

March 17, 1993|By Deborah Overton | Deborah Overton,Staff Writer

After reading a newspaper article about terminally ill children, Alexandra King, 7, decided she should help make their wishes come true.

"I wanted to do something," recalls Alexandra, a second-grader at Beechfield Elementary School in Southwest Baltimore.

So Alexandra consulted with her teacher, Diana M. Jolley, who was surprised by the student's concern.

Teacher and student decided that Alexandra would write a letter to the Grant-A-Wish Foundation of Maryland, which provides programs and services for children with life-threatening illnesses, and ask what she could do to help them.

"I didn't think we were going to get a response," says Ms. Jolley, who has been emphasizing writing to her students. "We've been writing to book authors and we never did get a response," she says.

Soon after Alexandra sent her letter, she got a reply from Brian A. Morrison, the foundation's executive director, saying that "we would be honored" if Alexandra and her friends donated money to the organization.

Within a week after receiving Grant-A-Wish's response, Alexandra and a few other students were spending 30 minutes each morning at Beechfield going from classroom to classroom, asking for donations.

"At first my class collected $32," says Alexandra. Then they went to the kindergarten classroom and collected $5 more from the teacher, she says.

Alexandra says she expected to collect about $100, but it was "way more than that." When she and her crew finished their fund drive, they had collected $625.

Ms. Jolley "told me every day how much money we had," Alexandra says.

"The response was just overwhelming," Ms. Jolley says, recalling how students still wanted to donate money even after the deadline.

The Grant-A-Wish Foundation, which began operating in 1982, runs and staffs Children's House in East Baltimore. Children's House, which opened in November 1992, provides temporary housing for parents of children undergoing treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Diann Bosley, assistant director of Grant-A-Wish, says, "It's not very often that you have a child do something like this." Most donors to Grant-A-Wish are businesses or community groups.

Ms. Bosley says Alexandra's donation will go into a larger pool of money available for wishes, which have ranged from trips to Florida to wigs.

"Kids recovering from chemotherapy have no hair," and that especially affects the girls, says Ms. Bosley.

"We try to accommodate all the wishes that come in," says Ms. Bosley.

During the fund drive, Ms. Jolley says, Alexandra and the other students "learned that, hey, there is definitely a need to help people" and "here are some little people that can't get out of the hospital" because of their illness.

Ms. Jolley hopes the students will continue helping Grant-A-Wish, "because it's really a worthwhile cause."

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