LHS hosts annual WISH dinner

At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 80 families poured into Libertyville High School for the annual Wildcats’ Initiative for Sharing at the Holidays (WISH) dinner.

During the WISH season, which occurs during October and November, LHS partners up with Catholic Charities to provide gifts for local families that do not have the means to buy Christmas gifts.

The school also hosts a dinner for these families to celebrate the holiday season. There were many stations set up to provide activities for the children and families who attend, such as crafts, board games and free play with equipment in the gym.

Third-year volunteer and senior Jack Otto prefers “doing crafts” at the WISH dinner because “that’s where you most get to talk with the kids and learn about them and who they are.”

While the WISH dinner has become an LHS tradition, there were some differences this year. For example, “Santa gave all the kids books. [The service-centered club] Interact did a book drive and many books collected went to Book Aid India, but we decided extras would go to the WISH dinner,” explained Mrs. Jennifer Uliks, the WISH coordinator and student activities director.

One thing that remained the same was how volunteers use their talents to help at the event. Spanish teacher Mrs. Megan Colombo used her knowledge of the Spanish language to communicate with about 95 percent of guests: “I greet the families, [help] check them in, [and encourage] them to enjoy the dinner and all of the delicious food in the cafeteria,” said Mrs. Colombo.

Physical education teacher Mr. Adam Stuart used his abilities as a gym teacher to “adapt on the fly to what kids like and [to contain] chaos in the gym” to lead games and play with kids, he said.

The dinner is the culmination of months-long fundraising effort done in each third-period class. For some, the dinner is a reminder of the bigger picture behind the fundraising.

“The dinner has shown me that there is an actual end to what we’re raising money for. We’re not just raising money for the dinner, we’re raising money for the families. If we don’t raise enough money, the families don’t get what they wished for,” reflected Otto.