On Saturday, July 28, Gov. David Ige paid a visit to Maui and brought something special along with him: A commemorative message in recognition of the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program.

That afternoon, the governor presented the special message to Wishing Well founder Sarah Sorenson of Whale’s Tale Realty, Inc. and Wishing Well coordinators Jill Kaiser of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers and Kim Delmore of Delmore Realty.

In his special message, Gov. Ige commended the program for “its continued work in empowering the students, teachers and public schools in Maui County. The state is committed to creating the next generation of thoughtful and compassionate citizens and leaders, and the efforts of Wishing Well brings Hawaii closer to making that goal a reality.”

For the past 11 years, the Wishing Well program has been making wishes come true for students, teachers and school administrators on Maui, Lanai and Molokai. And the program is a dream come true for its founder, Sarah Sorenson, who has worked on the front lines of public school education as an elementary school teacher, high school counselor and substitute teacher. Sorenson says her experience inspired her to create a program that would support and provide resources to chronically underfunded public schools.

Since the Wishing Well program was founded in 2007, volunteers have collected and distributed “wish list” items (which run the gamut from pencils to playground balls to scientific calculators to rubber slippers) to teachers and school administrators throughout the academic year. Many parents are unable to provide the basic items their children need in the classroom, so the simple act of collecting and distributing school supplies is a game changer for many students—and teachers, too. The Wishing Well program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and there are no administrative costs, which means that 100 percent of everything donated goes directly to the schools. And the program’s reach isn’t confined to the island of Maui; it covers all public schools in Maui County and serves approximately 20,000 students on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Run entirely by volunteer RAM members, the Wishing Well program has contributed more than $1.65 million in goods, services and cash donations to Maui County’s public schools.

As the program has grown, so have the number of requests from teachers, Sorenson said. In the past, Wishing Well volunteers held annual school supply drives at the entrance of the Kmart store in Kahului. But now that the store has closed its doors, Sorenson says monetary and in-kind donations are more important than ever—and every little bit helps.

The Wishing Well…for Maui Students program will host its first-ever fundraiser, aptly titled “Wishes with Fishes,” on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea. Tickets are still available for this 21-and-over event, which will feature a buffet dinner, silent auction and live music by acclaimed slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson, Natalie Nicole and Josh Hearl and the award-winning ukulele-powered Hawaiian reggae folk rock band, Kanekoa. And the Maui Ocean Center will have several naturalists on hand to answer questions.

One-hundred percent of the money raised at the “Wishes with Fishes” fundraiser on Aug. 11 will benefit Maui County’s public schools. You can help students and teachers by attending the event or by gifting an auctionable item, certificate, monetary donation or service-related contribution. “All donations are welcome,” Sorenson said.

The deadline to purchase tickets for the adults-only “Wishes with Fishes” fundraiser is Wednesday, Aug. 8. Tickets are $100 per person and can be purchased online at www.ILoveMauiSchools.com or in person at the RAM office, which is located at 441 Ala Makani Street in Kahului.

For more information about the Wishing Well…for Maui Students program, to make a donation or to inquire about “Wishes with Fishes” event sponsorship or donor opportunities, visit www.ILoveMauiSchools.com or email ramcf@ramaui.com.

By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – August 4, 2018

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