CEDAR RAPIDS — Caitlyn Hicks got to buy herself some late Christmas presents on Sunday thanks to the Taylor 3 Wish Club.
“I got a jacket, a Webkinz, and some bracelets, and some cards,” Caitlyn, 10, said.
Her brother Quinton, 12, picked out a book and an Xbox game.
A club started by Washington High School students has made it a priority to try to brighten the lives of students who attend Taylor Elementary School, hit hard by the flood of 2008.
Quinton and Caitlyn were two of 55 Taylor kids who received a $50 Target gift card from the 3 Wish Club. They got to buy whatever they wanted Sunday afternoon at the Target on Blairs Ferry Road NE.
“They were just delighted, and it was really awesome to see,” Hannah Wheeler, 17, president of the Taylor 3 Wish Club, said. “It was my last day of break. It was the best way I ever could have spent it.”
The last 18 months have been hard for the children who go to Taylor School, and the Hicks kids have been no exception. Their home near the Police Station was flooded in June 2008, and their school was closed for the 2008-09 school year.
At least one of the families shopping Sunday hadn’t been able to celebrate Christmas this year, and the gift card provided the only presents the kids received.
Wheeler and Kestrel Henry, 17, started the 3 Wish Club in 2008 after the flood and before Taylor School reopened. They thought the school’s closure would be particularly hard on the students, and asked each child who attended the school for at least half the previous school year to tell them three wishes: one big, one medium and one small.
The club since has granted about 60 wishes, and used leftover money to buy the gift cards for Sunday. The donations came from local businesses and individuals, teachers and students at Washington. A few donations came from as far away as California.
Sunday’s spree probably was the last thing the club will do. Wheeler and Henry plan to give what money is left to Taylor for school supplies or something else.
“To see the kids’ faces light up, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen,” Wheeler said. “That’s what the club is all about. That makes it all worth it.”