‘Believe’ mailbox holds PHS students’ wishes for Santa

Dancers, PHS visual ensemble members and children pen letters to Santa to participate in the Macy's Believe Make-a-Wish Foundation campaign following the 2014 Holiday Visual Ensemble Showcase.

Dancers, PHS visual ensemble members and children pen letters to Santa to participate in the Macy’s Believe Make-a-Wish Foundation campaign following the 2014 Holiday Visual Ensemble Showcase.

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“This is adorable! Who made this?” PHS Majorette sponsor Dana Gsell asked while admiring our Macy’s Believe Mailbox at the PHS Visual Ensemble Holiday Showcase.

Seven years ago, Macy’s began the Believe Campaign promising to donate $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for every letter written to Santa and delivered to the Macy’s Believe Mailboxes located inside their stores. The campaign is based upon the classic 1897 American editorial written by New York Sun Editor Francis Church.

Searching for a new way to teach this classic in writing electives, the Believe campaign was a perfect plan. I began asking my students to write Santa Letters for depositing in Macy’s mailboxes. We needed a classroom mailbox.

Seth, a Literary Magazine staffer and a scout, created the mailbox’s bones constructed of pizza delivery boxes complete with a hinged mail slot.

Other staffers covered the box with red paper, penned Santa and Believe to match Macy’s calligraphy and added Macy’s website printouts including Virginia O’Hanlon’s original letter with Church’s response, and the animated characters from Macy’s “Yes, Virginia” Christmas special. Sparkly garland completed their mailbox masterpiece.

“My niece fought a life-threatening illness,” Gsell said. “The Make-a-Wish Foundation sent her family to Disney World. They got a vacation from sickness. And then she got better. A decade letter, my niece is doing well.”

Students watch Make-a-Wish stories before writing. Their Santa letters may ask only for intangibles.

“For Christmas, I ask for peace for Palestine and Israel. Children deserve peace,” wrote junior Anna Smith.

“In the mountains of Honduras, I saw many kids suffering from parasites in their water. Please send those children clean water?” junior Jessica Hagan wrote.

Senior P.C. Benton asked for peace and hope for a family mourning the loss of a son.

“I ask for a spirit of contentedness,” senior Kaitlin VanDorsten wrote. “It’s hard to shake the feeling of restlessness, to rid yourself of a desire for more. For Christmas, I would like a warm fire and a good book and an easy heart.”

Beautiful students—beautiful wishes. May each of you enjoy Christmas peace.