116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — An Eastern Iowa youth is the seventh child to be granted a wish by The Make-A-Wish Foundation through donations collected at Lindale Mall.
Lindale Mall, 4444 First Ave. NE, has been collecting donations since 1999 for Make-A-Wish, nonprofit that helps fulfill the wishes of children with a critical illness between the ages 2 and 18.
It took five years for the mall to collect enough money to grant a wish from coins thrown into the mall’s Make-A-Wish fountain. The current average cost of a wish in Iowa is $15,000.
There are over 350 children in Iowa waiting for their wish, according to wish.org. For every wish granted, there are three more children with critical illnesses waiting on their wish. About 15 wishes nationally are granted every day, and every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with a critical illness.
The mall recently partnered with Iowa BIG students at Alburnett High School to improve the Make-A-Wish fountain’s visibility.
Iowa BIG is a project-based learning program available to some Eastern Iowa high school students. An Iowa BIG satellite location opened in Alburnett for the first time at the start of the 2021-22 school year.
While students in the Alburnett Community School District have had the option of enrolling in Iowa BIG in the past, they had to travel to Cedar Rapids to take the course. The district decided to open its own location last year after the Linn-Mar Community School District ended its five-year partnership with Iowa BIG to start its own project-based learning program available to all of its high school students.
Bekah Peterson and Amelia Stiffler, Iowa BIG students at Alburnett High School, worked with mall managers to get decals placed on the floor explaining donations thrown into the fountain go toward Make-A-Wish.
As people pass the fountain, they make their own wish while throwing in pennies, dimes and quarters, said Becky Eckley, general manager at Lindale Mall.
“We started talking about how we can get the word out. Cedar Rapids should know more about this,” Eckley said.
The most recent wish was granted to an 18-year-old in Eastern Iowa. The Gazette did not receive permission from the national Make-A-Wish office to use the recipient’s name or mention the wish she was granted.
Wishes include anything from a having quinceanera, — the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday — being a firefighter for a day, meeting a unicorn or get a puppy, according to wish.org.
The most recent recipient of a wish from Lindale Mall shopped for a dress as a part of her wish, which was altered by Lucy’s Alternations in the mall. Von Maur in the mall donated shoes and accessories to go with the dress, Eckley said.
In August 2021, Make-A-Wish Iowa received its largest donation in the organization’s history. The Gerdin Charitable Foundation of Solon donated $1.65 million, which will help fund 50 wishes a year over three years.
“We really like to give back to the community in any way we can,” Eckley said. “I think it’s just important people realize when they do put whatever they put in that fountain, it does go to a great cause.”
Those who wish to donate can throw coins into the Make-A-Wish fountain at Lindale Mall or visit Make-A-Wish online at wish.org/iowa.
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