Like so many of the local community members, businesses and organizations in Lackawanna County, the pandemic has had a profound impact on Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia — including the regional office right here in Scranton.

To protect the health of wish kids and their families, Make-A-Wish has paused wish-granting that involves travel and large gatherings until further notice. Because 77% of its wishes involve travel, there are more than 300 wish kids throughout the chapter’s territory whose wishes have been postponed due to COVID-19. On top of that, the organization has had to cancel more than 75 fundraisers and events, equating to a loss of nearly $1 million for its chapter alone.

This means wishes are waiting. For wish kids, every day of waiting is one too many.

In the midst of this worldwide health crisis, there are families in the local community who have heard the devastating news that their child has been diagnosed with a critical illness. Hospital stays, doctor’s visits and treatments means their life will never be the same. While fighting their illness, children have been anxiously counting the days until their wish will be granted. Their families have been counting, too.

With COVID-19, families have been forced to adjust to new health worries, as well as an added sense of fear, isolation and vulnerability.

Despite all this, hope is not cancelled. The mission of Make-A-Wish is to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. And, with the support of local communities, that’s what it has continued to do these past eight months.

“Even in these challenging times, our staff and volunteers have been committed to granting every possible wish that is safe to complete. While some wish kids hold onto hope as they wait to go on the trip of a lifetime, we are actively granting wishes like shopping sprees, gaming computers, pools, play sets and puppies.

For instance, this November, 5-year-old Marilyn of Lackawanna County, who is diagnosed with cancer, was granted her wish to have a shopping spree at Viewmont Mall

Make-A-Wish brings wish kids renewed hope. Suddenly, they enter a world of possibilities — where the exciting anticipation of a wish-come-true helps them believe in better days ahead.

Research shows that children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. A wish replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

This hope is essential. And since March, this urgent need for hope has taken on a whole new meaning. Make-A-Wish is committed to ensuring that no child waits even one unnecessary day to experience the hope and joy that a wish brings.

We need Lackawanna County’s support this holiday season so we can make every wish come true. Together, we can continue to be a light of hope for local children as we head into the New Year and create a fresh start with brighter days ahead for wish kids and their families.

No matter the circumstances, every child deserves a childhood. Life-changing wishes wouldn’t happen without the power of the local community. As we head into 2021, there are multiple ways to join Make-A-Wish in its efforts to grant the wish of every eligible child:

To donate, please visit wish.org/greaterpawv/donate or send a check to the local office. Checks can be made payable to “Make-A-Wish” and mailed to 327 North Washington Ave., Suite 501, Scranton, PA 18503.

Maggie O’Brien is the executive director of Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The nonprofit founded in the United States helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages of 2½ and 18 years old. For more information, visit wish.org/greaterpawv.

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