Central Restaurant Products is a proud supporter of the Make-a-Wish foundation, a not-for-profit organization with the “vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition” (see their “About Us” section). Every year, they recruit the help of thousands and thousands of volunteers and donors to make this vision a reality for children and families who have been dealt an unfair hand.
Central is proud to support this cause. It is our personal goal to make a wish come true for one child and their family every quarter. We like to give more than money, too. At Central, every employee receives a paid Volunteer Day every year to use to give back to their community.
For the past several years, many employees have chosen to use their Volunteer Day to participate in WZPL’s annual Make-a-Wish Request-a-thon, hosted live on air by the popular Smiley Morning Show. Through a thirty-six hour period, listeners can call in to request a song to play, and make a donation that goes directly to granting a wish. This fundraiser event is only achievable through the help of volunteers, and it is because of their determination and passion to serve that this year, the Request-a-thon was able to raise $706,145, enough to make 88 wishes come true.
Central employees Kate, Shannon, Galen, and Armando volunteer their time to make wishes come true.
Every year, early in December, many in the Indiana community grab their tissues and tune into local radio station WZPL for the annual Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon. Over the last 18 years this event has been held, the station stays on-air for 36 hours straight to raise money that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Smiley Morning Show has been hosting the event for the past 13 years and their group alone has helped raise over $4 million. The Request-A-Thon breaks the traditional rules for radio to have fun, take any song requests for donations, share stories from Make-A-Wish families and more.
This year’s event was held on December 4 and 5 and it was one for the record books! In total, the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon raised $580,000 and granted 72 wishes!
Central has been a Make-A-Wish sponsor since 2012 and has participated in the Request-A-Thon each year since. It is one of our many community outreach events and employees are always so excited to help.
For the Request-A-Thon in particular, WZPL is in need of people to help take calls for donations. This year they had eight open volunteer positions for Central to fill during the last two hours.
We had several employees offer to volunteer and had to draw names out of a hat to choose the eight to go!
Our following employees were chosen: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter, Bob Davidson, Sarah Templeton and Suzanne Maddux.
Shortly after the volunteer’s arrival, Sarah and Mike went on-air with The Smiley Morning Show to talk about our company and present our donation. Both did a great job and were excited to meet the radio show hosts and share information with the listeners.
Missy Fishburn and Mike Ferrando showing Braden he made it to the WZPL Facebook page
The Environment that Inspires
Once you walk in the doors of the call center, you step into a room filled with so much happiness and excitement. Phones are ringing off the hook and every few minutes someone shouts out a large donation amount they took which is then followed by cheers and clapping from the group. It’s filled with people from Make-A-Wish and radio station staff to local celebrities and Make-A-Wish families.
“The feeling when we walked in to the room was exciting, touching and all around great,” said Credit Analyst Missy Fishburn. “To see all the people come together and be a part of making so many of the kid’s wishes come true is something I’ll never forget.”
One of the group’s memorable experiences was meeting and spending time with 9-year-old Braden. Braden whizzed through the call center making friends everywhere he went, putting a smile on everyone’s face and even helped with some phone calls too.
“Braden ended up answering one of my calls and I acted as his secretary for that call,” said Sarah, product consultant at Central. “I was excited to volunteer so I could take as many calls as possible to get as many donations as I could. Having Braden there helping out was a great bit of extra motivation and extra special for me.”
It can be a very emotional and touching experience taking donation calls for the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon, which makes it so special to those that volunteer. Many times the people on the other end of the line end have tears of joy and are so thankful such an event exists. Other callers may have had their own experiences similar to these Make-A-Wish families which inspire them to donate.
“I had a 27-year-old woman who had 13 surgeries growing up as a child including open heart surgery to commit to being a wishmaker,” said Product Consultant Kate Nolan. When one becomes a wishmaker, they make monthly donations to Make-A-Wish. “Also, there was a mother of two, they were both Riley kids, commit to being a wishmaker as well. She’s a nurse at IU (Indiana University) and wanted to show her support.”
Many of the volunteers received calls from children offering up all they had in either allowance money or money they raised on their own.
“A 12-year-old boy had been saving his money and he didn’t know what to do with it so he told his mom to call in and do the $40-a-month for the year,” said Credit Coordinator Suzanne Maddux. “This was his allowance and birthday money and he wanted to do something good for someone else.”
These calls represent the entire community who participated in this event and made it such a success. From here, these children and their families will be able to have a day, week or experience out of their normal routines that brings them hope and happiness.
More Information for Your Area
Check out photos from this year’s event on the 2014 WZPL Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon Facebook page! If interested in becoming involved in your local Make-A-Wish chapter, you can find yours on the Make-A-Wish’s website. Simply put in your zip code and you can find contact information to help you get started. If your area or company has had a neat or inspiriting volunteering experience, please share below!
From left to right back row: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter and Bob Davidson. From left to right front row: Sarah Templeton, Suzanne Maddux
Central’s Ice Bucket Challenge for Warriors for Wishes
Over the summer of 2014, Central employees have been working to raise $6000 for Make-A-Wish and grant a wish for a child, Maya, by August 31, 2014. Maya’s wish is to be a mermaid!
To do this, we created the campaign “Warriors for Wishes” and have 30 employees participating in the September 6 Warrior Dash in Crawfordsville, Ind. to raise money.
When we were just over halfway to our goal and had two and a half weeks left, we had to be creative to keep up our momentum. After being nominated for the ALS ice bucket challenge, IT Manager Michael Sims knew just what to do.
Putting it all Together
Over the last few weeks, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has taken over social media and Michael thought it would be a good way for us to meet our Make-A-Wish goal and raise money internally by offering to have five gallons dumped on him for every $50 raised. This would also help ALS too once we posted the video–two great causes! We originally had two days to raise money but ended up extending it through noon on Monday August 18. (Approximately four days total).
Product Consultant Sabrina Tate, Director of Merchandising Elizabeth Price and the Category Management team (Austin Leland, Autumn Faust, Carrie Shambarger, Elizabeth Burnette, Rachel Beck) also agreed to join Michael for the challenge–not realizing that we would be able to raise enough money by our noon deadline to dump 80 gallons!
Several employees and their friends and family contributed, as well as our following vendors: Manitowoc, South Central Food Service Equipment, HRI, Advance Marketing Group, Ice-O-Matic and Allied Technologies Food Equipment Inc.
Drew, 6, is from Huntington, Ind. and has acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells and makes it hard for Drew to fight off infection.
In an article about Drew from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, they explained children that suffer from a life-threatening illness think of the day they will get to escape from treatments and appointments just to be a kid.
Drew will soon get the chance to take a break from doctor’s visits and just play.
He knew exactly what he wanted when visited by the Wish-Granting Volunteers–to have his own playhouse!
Drew loves his toys, reading and playing on swing sets. He can’t wait to go down the slides and play in the sand box. Drew hopes to have a rock climbing wall in his playhouse and show how strong he is despite his medical condition.
He is excited to have a place to hide and have adventures in the world of his imagination.
Central is very happy to have helped make Drew’s wish come true.
Eli loves being outdoors! Whether he’s playing football, baseball, or swimming, he’ll do anything to be outside! If the weather doesn’t cooperate, Eli enjoys playing “Mario Cart” on the Wii or watching his favorite football team, the Indianapolis Colts.
However, in November of 2010, Eli was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor. Eli is currently on anti-seizure medication and has to be home schooled.
In February, Eli and his family will travel to Walt Disney World® Resorts! Eli is most excited to meet Mickey Mouse, his favorite character and the star of Eli’s favorite tv show, “Mickey Mouse Club House”.
Eli’s wish will be granted in February! Central is very happy to have helped make Eli’s wish come true.