Melissa Shaeffer is the director of Candle Wishes for the Memphis area. In an interview, Shaeffer shared her heart for Candle Wishes, and different ways the community can get involved. This is what she had to say:
Q:What is the purpose of Candle Wishes?
Shaeffer: Candle Wishes meets the needs of children, as well as allowing the community to get involved and share God's love with the kids.
Q: Why did you choose to start Candle Wishes in Memphis?
Shaeffer:When I read about Candle Wishes, it spoke to me because I work with the kids in the city of Memphis, and I was looking for a way to get them involved with the local churches. It was successful in Murfreesboro, and I thought it would parellel with what was going on in the city of Memphis.
Q: What happens at a Candle Wishes party?
Shaeffer: The kids experience a normal" birthday party. They get to play with their families and other kids. They open their presents and eat and have cake. It's a happy, fun time. They last about an hour.
Q: What does it take to make a Candle Wishes party happen?
Shaeffer: We spend about 4 months collecting names from schools and churches of kids who would benefit from Candle Wishes. Then, we have to find donors or sponsors for each kid. This year we had 25. Then we find volunteers to work the parties, and a lot of times, different places will sponsor the actual party. Volunteers also help set up the parties, serve food, and play with the children at the parties.
Q:Now, what would you like to see in the future of Candle Wishes?
Shaeffer: I would really like to see Candle Wishes grow thorughout the city. There is no number goal, but just to see Candle Wishes in different communities. 12 different communities, and 12 different locations. Also, we hope to reach out to different organizations and children's homes, as well as the schools and churches.
Q: What is the greatest need in Candle Wishes right now?
Shaeffer: Well right now we need volunteers behind the scenes, to help with publicity and funding. We also need volunteers to sponsor the children.
O:What does a sponsorship look like?
Shaeffer: Well, the kids get needs and wants for their birthday, so a sponsor receives a list of different things they need and want. A normal sponsorship is about 100 dollars, and this might be school uniforms or other clothing items, shoes, and then sometimes a big present like a bike or computer.
Q: They need for people as the face of Candle Wishes is apparent, but what about people volunteering behind the scenes? Is their a need for help with publicity and fund-raising?
Shaeffer: We do need people to help us come up with ideas, and be involved with the details of fund-raising, like a fund-raising board. We are actually working under Jenny's [Murfreesboro Director of Candle Wishes] board. Some of the fund-raisers coming up were their idea, and we need to have a board to work with fund-raising here.
Q:What ways could people get in touch with you, or find out more about Candle Wishes?
Shaeffer: They can go to the Candle Wishes website and find my email address and phone number. They can reach me through either of those.