The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Stars of Make-A-Wish Foundation makes an impact in the GV, Local community

Courtesy | gvsustarsmaw Instagram

Stars of Make-A-Wish Foundation (Stars for MAW), a student organization at Grand Valley State University, is gearing up for another semester of serving the community. The campus organization fundraises in West Michigan to “grant wishes” to people in the community with critical illnesses.

The club aims to provide hope to the local population. To achieve this, the club’s fundraising efforts vary from partnering with local restaurants to fundraising activities at GVSU basketball games. They also help plan events for the non-profit Kids Food Basket, which focuses on ending childhood hunger.

Brianna Hipple, the club’s president, works directly with a representative from the national Make-a-Wish foundation. Through this collaboration, the group got to make a GVSU freshman’s wish come true this past August.

We were able to deliver him a swag bag. He got his fall tuition covered by Make-A-Wish Michigan. Grand Valley (assisted) by giving him gift cards to Best Buy and Meijer to help with his first year (of college),” Hipple said. “When he moved in, we came with the basket and welcomed him. That was a really cool experience that we got to be a part of.”

For the most part, the group fundraises the majority of wishes through donation and organization efforts rather than face-to-face interactions. However, they recently also got the chance to attend a holiday party and interact with some of the kids they had fundraised for. 

“We got to personally meet one-on-one with different (Make-A-Wish) kids and their families,” said Lily Shaw, the club’s treasurer and social media manager. “We got to know not just the reason or what their wish was, but who they actually were.”

Leah Barys, another member of Stars for MAW, has participated in multiple fundraisers. She said her favorite club memory was the group’s Christmas Store Cleanup for Family Promise, an organization that helps unhoused families.

Family Promise puts on this giant Christmas store every year. Families get to go and everything is discounted. There’s so much stuff there and we get to do the cleanup after,” Barys said. “You left knowing that you did good and you were able to help people, even if it was just moving a ton of boxes.”

Rachel Maude, the club’s volunteer and event coordinator, also enjoyed participating in the Family Promise cleanup. Maude said she was able to meet many other volunteers at the event and interact with event participants.

“There was a buffet for them (participants), Christmas games and face painting for the kids,” Maude said. “It was cool to see that interaction too, aside from them going and shopping in the Christmas store, just seeing them in their environment having fun.”

While Stars for MAW partake in many seasonal opportunities, they also focus on year-round community service. The group works frequently with the Ronald McDonald House. Stars for MAW’s Vice President, Olivia Grover, said working with the foundation has been a highlight of her time in the club. 

“We were only there (at the Ronald McDonald House) for two hours, but we got to make meals for 20-30 people,” Grover said. “I really like their mission and how they help families that are in and out of the hospital. It was a feel-good experience.”

From working with various organizations to delivering a wish to a GVSU student, club members said volunteering at every level allows them to make an impact. Whether it’s providing smiles or truly life-changing gifts, Stars for MAW aims to be there for the local community.

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