One Simple Wish

Granting Modest Wishes That Can Make a Big Difference in the Lives of Foster Children

By Laurie Pellichero | Photography courtesy of One Simple Wish

Every voice heard. Every child loved.” That is the goal of One Simple Wish, now celebrating 10 years of making wishes come true for children in foster care.

Founded by Ewing resident Danielle Gletow, the nonprofit organization has helped more than 55,000 children through 700 community partners in 48 states across the country through its online wish-granting platform at www.onesimplewish.org.

The idea for One Simple Wish began in 2006 when Gletow and her husband Joe first became foster parents with the goal of adopting a child from the foster care system. The experience changed their lives forever as they soon realized how many children in the foster care system don’t have access to the simple things and experiences that other children might take for granted, like new shoes, music lessons, or participating in school sports.

According to One Simple Wish, more than 500,000 children impacted by abuse, neglect, and trauma spend time in foster care each year. “It can be lonely, confusing, and a bit scary,” said Gletow. “One Simple Wish aims to bring a measure of comfort and joy into these children’s lives by empowering others to share their love and support in the form of granting simple wishes.

“When wishes come true, kids not only have a chance to just be kids, but they can also make important connections, experience new things, and find their passion.”

Gletow left her job in the corporate world to start One Simple Wish in her home, and the website became fully operational in 2008. Through its platform, agencies that work with children in foster care join One Simple Wish’s Community Partner Network, and submit wishes on behalf of children they are helping. One Simple Wish then shares that wish throughout its network, and caring people throughout the country help make the wish come true.
“What is most extraordinary is that we take no funding from state or government agencies,” said Gletow. “We really are a movement to do what is good and right for children, without any possible conflict. The person giving $5 to grant a wish is the same as the person giving $5,000. We want to give people a direct avenue to help these children, and know where their money is going. We want to remain independent.”

The organization raises more than $1.2 million a year to make simple wishes come true, and has that same goal this year.

Though they grant wishes across the country, One Simple Wish is operated by just four dedicated people in an office in Trenton. Wishes are categorized on the website as arts and music, education and employment, health and wellness, experiences, just for fun, and essentials. Wish grantors can select price and age ranges, as well as the state where the child lives. The age range goes to up to 30 to provide wishes for those who have aged out of the foster care system but don’t have permanent or stable connections.

When you click on a request, you can learn more about the child or youth who is behind it. There are approximately 400 wishes listed on the site each day, and over 6,000 are granted each year.

Current wishes include a request from Jennifer, who wants a laptop to further her education. Quintel wants a bike, so he can learn how to ride, and Samantha wants a lamp to study under. Elian is asking for a new pair of high-top sneakers to help support his ankles, and Anjelina, who is learning and talking more every day, is asking for a LeapStart interactive learning system.

People can make a general donation towards their mission, or follow a specific child and support subsequent wishes from that child. The website was recently enhanced so that people can select multiple wishes and add them to a cart all at once. A messaging function sends notes of encouragement to a child through the system. Wishes can also be granted in someone’s memory or honor.

One Simple Wish also provides Loved By One Simple Wish bags to thousands of foster children across the U.S. that contain information about the program and how to make a wish as well as comfort items like squishies, journals, silly pens, sketch pads, Bombas socks, and more. The bags can be ordered through the website, and volunteers can also purchase items for the bags and help make them.

They also host Wish Parties throughout the year in New York, New Jersey, and Los Angeles.

“A Wish Party is a place for our kids to just be kids,” said Gletow. “It’s a place for foster children to unite, a place for siblings who are placed in separate foster homes to visit each other, and it’s a place for under-served families to bond and form a network of support.”

At Wish Parties, participants enjoy a meal as One Simple Wish representatives discuss their services and share information about local resources. They also distribute brand new toys and personal care products, and the children can make crafts, play games, and have fun.

Over the past 10 years, One Simple Wish has grown to become a nationally-recognized nonprofit. Through her efforts to advocate for foster children, Gletow was named one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes for 2013. Gletow and One Simple Wish have been featured on NBC Nightly News; Nightline; The Real; Harry, Harry Connick Jr.’s talk show; and others. Stories about the organization have appeared in The Washington Post, Woman’s World, Redbook, Martha Stewart Living, and other publications. Danielle also gave a TEDx talk about children’s rights and obstacles in the foster care system.

Gletow recently attended screenings of the new film Instant Family in New York and Los Angeles, where she met with current and future foster parents, and is working with Disney on holiday parties for foster children in New York and Los Angeles. There will also be pop-up Santa events in New Jersey this December. NFL alumni will be participating in the holiday events.

The organization will soon be debuting “Here. Me. Now.” through its social platforms, which will highlight former foster children, now adults, discussing what resources helped them to live happy and fulfilling lives.

One Simple Wish will also feature a 12-hour live stream on Facebook Live on November 27, Giving Tuesday, highlighting its program and discussing the many ways that people can help grant wishes, as well as offering resources for those in the foster care system. Last year this live stream raised nearly $50,000 for the children, and this year they hope to double that.

One Simple Wish was the Trenton Country Club’s Community Charity, where over $25,000 was raised in September, and is the NJ Association of Student Council’s Charity of the Year for 2018 with a goal of raising over $100,000 by the end of the school year. Gletow travels throughout the year to talk at schools and businesses to advocate for foster children, and spread the word about One Simple Wish.

She and Joe did adopt a foster child — Mia is now 11. Their daughter Liliana is 10. They also have two dogs, Alice and Lucy.

When jokingly asked how she spends her spare time, Gletow said that she just founded a new all-volunteer foundation, Trenton Animals Rock, which raises money to help shelter dogs that need medical procedures so that they can become adoptable. She reports that they have helped more than a dozen dogs since June.

“There are a lot of terrible things happening in our country right now, but there are a lot of great things too,” said Gletow. “I want to use the power I have to celebrate and encourage more of the good, in everyone.”

For learn more about One Simple Wish, or to grant a wish for a child in foster care, visit
www.onesimplewish.org.