Make-A-Wish looking for volunteers in Fairbanks

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:22 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Make-A-Wish, a national organization that grant wishes to children with critical illnesses, is looking for volunteers in Fairbanks.

From travel to parties to shopping sprees, volunteers with the organization do what they can to make a child’s wish come true.

“I always say I’m a glorified party planner,” said 20-year volunteer Dorothy Laiti. “It was so easy to become a volunteer that I did it, and I just haven’t looked back.”

She said, “I’m passionate about it. It’s easy to do. I really enjoy it.”

The number of wishes granted in Fairbanks varies year to year. After a child is referred to the program, the goal is for their wish to be granted within six months. “An email will come out to all the local volunteers, and they’ll say, ‘Okay, we’ve got a wish. Who wants to go?’”

In Fairbanks, most wishes involve travel, and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll. “We have about 60 kids in Alaska right now waiting for wishes, for either medical reasons or they just can’t travel or things like that,” Laiti said.

While travel wishes are more straightforward, “The ones that are local wishes are a lot more work, and it’s fun to get a lot, you can get a lot more people involved,” according to Laiti.

Children have wished for computers and puppies, and one time volunteers even built a replica of the Ronald McDonald house. “The whole community came together for that one. That was incredible,” she explained.

According to Laiti, to be a volunteer, “You just have to be able to plan a party, basically. I’m a wish granter. Planning, communication, kindness.”

And according to volunteer Michele Nilson, interested community members can help in any number of ways. “Not everybody, necessarily, has to be a wish granter volunteer.”

One woman donates homemade cakes to events. Others donate whatever is needed for a given wish. “When you see something on social media, asking for donations for the travel kits or things like that, you can contribute snacks, backpacks, whatever the wish granters are needing,” said Nilson.

Make-A-Wish in Fairbanks is also currently looking for airline miles and cash donations.

Volunteers must pass a background check. More information about volunteering can be found here.

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