Guide to Little Wishes

What is Little Wishes?

Little Wishes is the most magical time of the year here at the Coalition! Through our longstanding partnership with KSDK 5 On Your Side, we provide thousands of gifts each year to children impacted by foster care. Since 2005, donors have ensured every child who has spent time in foster care in our region receives gifts for the holidays.

We can’t thank you enough for making this such a special time for our kids and families. Time and time again, we hear from foster and adoptive parents how much it means to know that people like you are thinking of them during the holidays.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for always thinking of our kids!

It truly takes our entire community to make this project happen. Every child who has spent time in St. Louis foster care is eligible for Little Wishes. In Missouri, that means kids and youth in St. Louis City and County as well as Jefferson, St. Charles, Franklin, Lincoln, and Warren Counties. In Illinois, we serve families in Madison, St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph, and Washington Counties. All ages are eligible, which means infants all the way up to 21-year-old youth preparing to age out of foster care.

How Does Little Wishes Work?

Each year in August, the Coalition mails out a catalog to foster, adoptive, and guardianship parents. We also share it via email and text message. Parents can sign up online, by phone, or through their caseworker.

Once caregivers submit their child’s Little Wishes, staff and volunteers input all the data into our system. This typically takes all the way up until the middle of November, as children are still entering care or moving to new placements.

Once all data is in our system, volunteers begin shopping for Little Wishes! We use Amazon and Walmart to maximize our donor dollars. We also have longstanding partnerships with several vendors to provide toys and experiences for our kids. Because we buy in bulk, we often get better deals than what individual donors would get on their own.

Behind the scenes during the month of November, our team is ensuring every Little Wish appears on our website for purchase. About one week before Thanksgiving, every Wish appears on our website and is available for purchase by you, the donor.

As you purchase Little Wishes, our “Holiday Elves” (volunteers) arrange to have each gift shipped directly to the child’s home, which has been tied to the product you click on our website via our system. From the families’ perspective, it is truly a seamless experience!

Our Partnership with KSDK 5 On Our Side

KSDK 5 On Our Side has partnered with the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition since 2005, encouraging their audience to support Little Wishes. Because of KSDK 5 On Your Side, the Coalition has been able to grant 83,380 Little Wishes and counting! Our program allows children impacted by foster care to enjoy childhood experiences and have a magical holiday. For many, buying Holiday Little Wishes has now become a family tradition. We are grateful for the partnership of KSDK 5 On Your Side.

Shopping Tips

There are thousands of wishes available for purchase! It can be a little overwhelming to know what to choose. Here are a few tips to make your Little Wish shopping experience meaningful, practical, and more efficient.

Make it more meaningful. Whether you are granting a Little Wish as a present for a loved one or just for the joy of it, you can use the filter options on the webpage to personalize your gift with thoughtful details to make granting wishes more meaningful. Some of the ways we’ve seen shoppers do this over the years:

– Selecting wishes with the same name as the donor’s own children, grandchildren, siblings, relatives, or friends. Use the filter tool “Search by Child’s Name.”

– Selecting wishes for kids of the same age as the donor’s own children, grandchildren, or other special children in their lives. We’ve also seen shoppers target a special age group they are passionate about supporting, such as older youth. Use the tool “Filter by Child’s Age.”

Shop Savvy. You can use the “Filter by Price” tool to narrow gift options by your preferred price point. This is a super helpful tool if you know exactly how much money you’d like to spend, as well as for planning several gifts to fit within your allotted budget.

Shop quickly. Holiday Wishes go FAST! And everyone is shopping at the same time. This means that gifts in your cart might sometimes become unavailable if another shopper purchases it first. This will mess up your order, and you’ll need to add items to your cart again. This can be frustrating and will require patience. One way to limit this risk is to shop at nontraditional times when others aren’t online. That could mean the early morning, later evening, or during lunch or dinner hours.

Use the tips above to help you plan your purchase, and once you’ve got your cart together, keep the process moving!

We want to make this process as smooth as possible for you. If you have recurring issues with your cart, please contact us at 314-367-8373, and we will be glad to help with your order.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Is this really what the child requested? Why do so many children request the same thing?

In August, we send a holiday gift catalog to all eligible families. The 2022 catalog offered 205 toy and gift options. The wishes that sell out most quickly are experiences, and the wishes that tend to take the longest to sell out are things like shoes or gift cards, which older youth tend to prefer.

  1. Why is the cost on your website higher than what I can buy it for on Amazon?

In August, we develop a catalog of hundreds of gifts for kids to choose from. The catalog is based on the full price of the item because we don’t know what the actual price will be in December.

For the donor, the amount is calculated like this:

    • Full price of toy, plus
    • Shipping to foster parent’s home, plus
    • Postage for us to send notification to foster parents, plus
    • Printing for the notifications, plus
    • 15% administrative fee (This is the only time of the year we charge a fee, which covers the many hours of staff time invested in the program. This way, we’re not taking away from the general operating funds that allow us to find homes for kids in foster care.)

If we are able to get gifts on sale, the “extra” money is used to grant Little Wishes throughout the year. These funds are tracked in a separate bank account to ensure the donor’s intent is fulfilled.

  1. Why can’t I directly donate gifts I bought at a store?

We know it can be fun to pick something up off a shelf and know that it will end up in the hands of a child who has spent time in foster care! That’s why we do our absolute best to give you a sense of connection to the child whose wish you granted by providing their name, age, and specific gift for every Little Wish.

Coordinating the receipt, repackaging, and shipping of physically donated gifts is unfortunately not feasible given the scope of the program: more than 4,000 Little Wishes are granted each year! The other issue is confidentiality. Allowing direct shipping, which would get around the enormous cost in staff time of our team repackaging donations, would risk giving donors confidential information about our families.

We hope this guide is helpful and improves your Little Wishes shopping experience. Little Wishes makes the holidays brighter for our kids, and we could not do it without you! Your generosity helps ensure children in foster care do not feel forgotten during the holidays. Thank you, and happy shopping! 🙂