High school students work on thousands of Santa letters.


Students from Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) recently put down their books to help make the holiday season brighter for some in need.

Members of the campus organization DECA, a national high school business club, delivered 3,312 letters to officials from the Macy’s Store in Northridge on Dec. 12, resulting in $6,624 being raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Students personally wrote each letter and involved their family and friends in the holiday letter writing campaign.

For each letter the store receives Macy’s donates $1 to Make-A-Wish. But on Dec. 12, the amount was doubled to $2. The Granada Hills students took advantage of this offer by delivering all their letters at once, effectively doubling the amount Macy’s will donate.

Students began collecting letters for the campaign in November, with an overwhelming response.

“We advisors were careful not to orchestrate the team’s efforts, but rather left the fate of this community service campaign up to the students,” said Andrew Nelson, Business Teacher and DECA Advisor at Granada Hills.

“Our team spread the word to GHCHS teachers, coaches, staff and fellow students, but they did not stop at the school’s fences. Students solicited letters from local middle and elementary schools, religious institutions, public libraries, senior centers, scout troops, club sport teams and took many other creative approaches. My favorite student idea was to have families write letters about something they believe in during their Thanksgiving Celebrations.”

Campaign letter writers either composed a letter to Santa or communicated a holiday wish list to a parent, or described a character they believe grants wishes in the holiday season.

Lule DeShields, a senior with aspirations of becoming a doctor, experienced firsthand the holiday spirit in her community. She collected the largest amount of letters, more than 500.

“It felt good to give back to a great cause and it means a lot to me. It was simple,” DeShields said. “I love helping out in any way and giving 110 percent.”

The students’ enthusiasm for this letter-writing campaign was completely unprecedented and DECA team members are already brainstorming ways to beat this letter count next year.

“Students went above and beyond for this great cause,” says Elaine Izquierdo, Macy’s sales manager at Northridge Fashion Mall. “This was an amazing effort and we are so thrilled to be a part of it.”

Izquierdo presented the students with a certificate of appreciation from Macy’s for their efforts. The students hoisted the boxes and bags full of letters to the ground floor of Macy’s where Santa’s desk and mailbox was set up to receive letters. As the students “mailed” each letter by filling the North Pole postal box at the store, a small boy and his mother stopped to see. Inspired, they picked up a pen and wrote down his wish list.