ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network today announced it has partnered with the Pinellas Education Foundation and Walmart Market 111 to deliver toys, school supplies, and other necessities valued at more than $63,000 to approximately 400 sixth grade students at Meadowlawn Middle School. Kids Wish Network’s Holiday of Hope event focused on healthy eating and making healthy choices, and provided these at-risk children with a day filled with music, gifts, food, and special guests.
“Our Holiday of Hope events provide children facing difficult situations nationwide with hope and encouragement for a happier, healthier future,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of Kids Wish Network. “With the generous sponsorship of Walmart and the partnership of the Pinellas Education Foundation, we were able to give hundreds of kids a chance to smile and have fun while learning about making healthy choices that will greatly improve the quality of their lives.”
Although known for granting wishes for children facing life-altering illnesses, Kids Wish Network also works with more than 180 hospitals, shelters, schools, and other care facilities throughout the United States to distribute more than $2 million in donated gifts and necessities each year through their Holiday of Hope Gift Bank and Kids Wish Network On Tour Programs.
When Kids Wish Network teamed up with the Pinellas Education Foundation to organize a Holiday of Hope event for students in need, they immediately selected Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Approximately 73% of Meadowlawn’s students receive free or reduced lunch programs, with over half of these students either being homeless or coming from low income families. Knowing the needs of the children, Kids Wish Network distributed gift bags loaded with toys and school supplies, along with gift cards from local businesses to the more than 400 sixth grade students. Meadowlawn Middle School also received thousands of vegetable and herb seed packets for its school garden program.
Sponsored by Walmart Market 111, the Holiday of Hope celebration focused on promoting healthy eating and making healthy choices. Kids Wish Network partnered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ “Fresh from Florida” Division of Marketing and Development, as well as the Pinellas and Pasco County Family Nutrition Programs, to provide fun, instructional demonstrations from certified nutritionists, as well as cookbooks and posters promoting healthy choices. The kids enjoyed some hands-on fun while learning how to make “brain food” – delicious, healthy trail mix and smoothies – from the Family Nutrition Program representatives.
“It was extremely rewarding for me and my team to once again partner with the Kids Wish Network in making a difference in a child’s life. The event at the Meadowlawn Middle School was a great opportunity for me and my Team to give back to the community in which we serve. We are committed to serving our local community and look forward to future partnerships with the Kid’s Wish Network.” Jeff Worthy, Market Manager for Wal-Mart 111 in Pinellas County.
In addition to the gift bags and demonstrations, there were numerous activities for the kids to enjoy, including a photo booth, games, visits with mascots from the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a DJ, as well as food and healthy treats from local restaurants and bakeries. The students, teachers, and staff all welcomed the opportunity to relax and have a good time during the week prior to FCAT testing.
“The sixth grade students and teachers want to thank all of the individuals at Kids Wish Network for putting together the Holiday of Hope event for Meadowlawn Middle,” said Melissa Athanson, Assistant Principal of the Sixth Grade. “Our students were truly touched by all of the time and effort that went into making this event happen. All of the individuals who took time to come out means so much to our students, and our families. The children were extremely appreciative of all the activities and donations! We look forward to continuing this wonderful relationship with Kids Wish Network in the future.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for making this Holiday of Hope event so spectacular: Walmart, Affordable Catering, Aveda, Chick-fil-A, Compound Fun, Datz Dough, Dunecraft, Douglas, FKQ Marketing, Home Depot, Light Wedge, McDonalds, Noodle Head, The Fresh Market, Three Cheers, Ritter Pen, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sweet! By the Cake Factory, Cakes by Carolyn, Rick Pegram – Sounds Great Entertainment, Pasco Family Nutrition Program, and Pinellas County Extension.
For photos from the Holiday of Hope event at Meadowlawn Middle School, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org/media.
For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org.
If you know of a school, hospital, or other facility that could benefit from its Hero of the Month or Gift Bank programs, please call Kids Wish Network at 727- 937-3600 or toll free at 888-918-9004.