MADISON, NJ - A Madison family has launched a nonprofit organization called Student Wish List Project (SWLP), which is designed to help local charities increase their wish list fulfillment by tapping into student volunteers. Tania Lee, the Student Wish List Project’s cofounder and executive director, explains that children will be able to go onto the website (www.studentwishlistproject.org), select a charity to support, and SWLP will help them organize a custom, private, online donation drive based on the charity's wish list.
The mission is two-fold: to provide volunteer opportunities that are currently lacking for school-age children, and to help local charities receive the in-kind donations they need to support the community.
The Student Wish List Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Lee, who has a science background and owns a company that focuses on regulatory writing for medical and scientific journals, explains that the concept for SWLP is built on her family's birthday tradition of collecting donations in lieu of gifts.
“We've always done these donation drives for birthdays and when my older son was applying for a volunteer program at school, we realized how few opportunities there were for students to give back…. Based on our family tradition of conducting wish-list donation drives to reduce an abundance of birthday gifts, we realized that we could quite effortlessly help direct goods where they are needed most, as well as provide volunteer opportunities lacking for school-age children.”
“Younger students easily understand how these donations can make a difference in someone’s life, and older students can readily accumulate community service experience – all while helping local charities receive the in-kind donations they require to support our community. Our aim is to make the process of giving back so simple that it’s a no-brainer", she said.
The Student Wish List Project is designed to help local charities receive more in-kind donations by helping students organize online donation drives based on a charity’s ‘wish list’ of all needed material goods, from mops to clothing to backpacks. One hundred percent of all donations goes directly to the receiving charities.
To date, SWLP has partnered with eight local nonprofit organizations, including Covenant House (a crisis care and ongoing support center for homeless youth in Newark), Jersey Battered Women’s Service (offering 24/7 support for victims of domestic violence and abuse in Jersey City), Deirdre’s House (Morris County’s center for child victims of abuse in Morristown), Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (a hospital providing specialized medical services for children in Newark), The Eric Johnson House (AIDS Services’ transitional housing for homeless individuals with HIV/AIDS in Morristown), Good Grief (offering support to grieving children and their families in Morristown and Princeton), Homeless Solutions (offering assistance for the homeless and working poor in Morris County in Morristown) and Saint Peter’s Orphanage (a residential treatment facility for abused, abandoned, or neglected adolescent boys in Denville).
“Student Wish List Project helped us very quickly and painlessly raise school supply donations we needed for our annual Back to School BBQ Event….…As a nonprofit, we are always striving to do more with what we have, and this partnership allows us to increase our wish list donations with virtually no effort on our part…” said Jaime Kaiser, program coordinator at recipient organization Deirdre’s House.
Student Wish List Project works with each partnered charity to ensure that its wish list of all requested material goods is up-to-date and accessible via an online gift registry. A custom online registry based on the student’s preferences is created for each individual donation drive. Students can track the progress of their donation drive online, and will receive documentation of the in-kind donations they helped to generate at the completion of each donation drive. Conducting a wish list drive also makes older students eligible to apply to volunteer in-house with Student Wish List Project, further increasing their community service experience.