MIDLOTHIAN — Students at Frank Seale Middle School are working to raise $20,000 to donate toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The group is involving all of Midlothian ISD and local businesses by writing a simple, yet impactful Letter to Santa.

Last year, the students turned in 5,001 letters, raising over $10,000. But this year, the student council and Junior Optimist Club are working to double this year’s proceeds.

With only a week to reach out to community members, local businesses and surrounding schools, the students, faculty and parents are swamped with delivering and picking up letters.

The students compiled a list of all of the local businesses in Midlothian and made an effort to contact every single one of them. Students were equipped with a professional script asking for companies to participate in Letters to Santa.

Businesses that agreed to help out this year are supplied with a large, green or red felt envelope to collect the Letters to Santa.

Sixth-grade English language arts and reading teacher, Jennifer Barnes, who is also the student council sponsor, said, “It’s a simple letter. The littlest kids to grandparents can write a quick letter in efforts of granting a wish that sick children might otherwise not be able to afford or experience before they pass away.”

She said as of Nov. 28 they have about 4,000 Letters to Santa guaranteed.

Eighth-grader and president of the Junior Optimist Club, Kourtnie White, said the students are likely to reach this year’s goal because they are playing a larger role in spreading the word by networking with businesses.

“We’ve reached out to more businesses. Last year it was just Ms. Barnes doing it and this year we’ve [students] been calling everyone,” she said.

White described the process: “You write a letter to Santa basically explaining what you want for Christmas, and then we go and pick it up and take it to Macy’s on ‘double day’ so instead of them being worth just $1 it will be worth $2 every letter.”

“Double Day” is a term that the students use for Dec. 8 because Letters to Santa count as $2 instead of $1 when turned in. Letters count as double on Dec. 8 because it’s National I Believe Day.

Since it takes a whole day for the students to count and bundle the letters, the deadline to turn in a letter is Dec. 7.

Students on the STUCO and Junior Optimist Club boards will deliver the letters to the Macy’s at North Park Mall this year to experience paying it forward. White will be included in that group.

She said, “It feels great helping out the community and knowing that I’m doing something like changing some people’s lives that are going through a tough time.”

Barnes explained that Macy’s donates the money directly to Make-A-Wish since it’s their seasonal campaign. She also mentioned how surprised and grateful the store manager is to hear that an entire community is working towards the goal of $20,000.

She said, “We don’t take the credit for it, it’s a community-wide event.”

“Anyone from all over the world can email us their letters, and we will print them out. All of the daycares are doing it right now, and our entire school participates, and all of the elementary schools are doing it. It’s just a matter of reaching all of the schools,” Barnes said.

Barnes emphasized on the outreach on social media as well by posting on community Facebook pages like Positively Midlothian and Midlothian Talk.

“It would be really cool if everyone on that Facebook page with 35,000 members could write just one letter, that’s $70,000. I can’t even fathom that amount that we can do. That would be incredible,” Barnes said.

If interested in writing a Letter to Santa, here a some of the stores have letters to fill out or work as a drop off station: Chicken Express, Game Stop, Taco Casa, Stonegate, Joanns, CVS, Baylor Family, Kroger, Beef-O-Brady’s, Light House Café, Dental Core Midlo, Dairy Queen, Whataburger, Hachie Courthouse, Cobble Stone, Branda Burger, Burkes and Starbucks.