Wishing Star, a program that grants wishes for seriously ill youths in central and eastern Washington and Idaho, has a lot of Christmas wishes on its list.
The organization is working to fulfill the wishes of about 37 youths, including three in the Tri-City area.
Lacey Scott, 10, of Burbank, wants to swim with dolphins. Emma Yniguez, 4, of Kennewick, wants to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie.
"Those are doable," said Veronica Smet, program director for Wishing Star.
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But Michelle Flores, 20, of Pasco, wants to meet singer Justin Bieber.
"That's more difficult," Smet said. "We might just have to get her the best seats we can at one of his concerts."
The wishes and needs of the youth served by Wishing Star are as varied as their situations and conditions.
"We don't just take on the wishes of terminally ill kids but those who have a condition that could be life threatening, too, like cerebral palsy," said Brooke Allenbaugh.
She's the Tri-Cities Chapter president for Wishing Star and has been a volunteer with the organization for six years.
Allenbaugh trains the volunteers who work with the youth and their families, those who seek donations and those who help carry out the wishes.
"We'll use a volunteer in any capacity -- some just want to run errands, others provide manpower, assembling things like outdoor playsets," Allenbaugh said.
People to help with fundraising is Wishing Star's most urgent need.
"It's nice to have things like plane tickets donated but sometimes we need to buy items like gift certificates for groceries and gas, or pay for hotel rooms," said Brittany Bergsson, development director for the Wishing Star Foundation.
The organization also can use donations of tickets to sporting events, family oriented concerts and movies, passes for bowling -- or any youth or family events.
Bergsson is one of three full-time, paid staff in the organization's corporate office in Spokane. Smet, who works part time, is also on staff.
Bergsson is a former Tri-City resident who began volunteering with Wishing Star in the Tri-Cities while still in high school.
She began her job with the foundation in October and works out of the Spokane office.
To volunteer in the Tri-City area, contact Allenbaugh, call 948-4012 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make donations, call Bergsson at 509-744-3411 or send an email to email@example.com.
To make a referral for youth who needs a wish granted, call Smet at 509-744-3411.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org