At Butler High School, there’s one special holiday tradition that’s been helping those in need every year since the school first opened. The Butler Wish Box provides a way for students to help their less fortunate classmates, families, and those in the community, by fulfilling specific needs they may have during this holiday season.

The Wish Box is open for business about two weeks before winter break. Students can drop confidential wishes into the box for themselves, friends or neighbors. Organizer and teacher Barbara Everitt is the only person who sees the wishes.

“It makes it seem more real because each wish is very detailed to a person that lives very close to us,” sad student Isabel Fee.

Wish box requests can be anything from essentials like food and clothing, to stuffed animals for younger siblings. This year’s wish list included a used washing machine for a staff member, a pharmacy gift card to help pay for medication for a cancer patient, dolls for a five- and 12-year-old girl, and casual clothing for a middle-aged woman.

Student Jacob Schexnayder said, “You feel really good to be part of something where others who are less fortunate are getting help.”

After the wishes are left in the box, Everitt posts a list of needed items. Students, staff, and even members of the community help gather donations to make those wishes come true.

Students say the Wish Box has special meaning for them during the holidays. “I have more than enough to give, so I’m trying to give as much as I can and it makes me feel like I’ve helped somebody,” student Caitlin Metros said.

Everitt says the program has grown every year. “By the time we’re done, we’ve probably provided things for, I would say, close to 100 people.”

One woman who had been helped by the wish box in the past was so grateful that she came back to pay it forward this year.

“She told me how blessed she is because now she is doing fairly well and she wanted to know what she could do for someone else,” Everitt said.

After the donations, gifts or gift cards are collected, Everitt distributes them privately to those who requested help. The Butler Wish Box has been a Butler tradition since the school opened in 1997.