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Del Mar High School’s Winter Wish Event Brings Joy & Tears to Community

More time with loved ones, a night out for hardworking parents, new shoes, supplies for a talented art student, gifts for the school custodian who doubles as the junior varsity football coach, remembrances for those who have passed: these and similar wishes formed the basis for Del Mar High School’s December 2 Winter Wishes event, in which students, teachers, and community members came together to demonstrate their regard for one another by fulfilling the holiday wishes of their friends and colleagues.

“Every student and teacher writes down what they want most for themselves or someone else, and it’s up to the school community to help make those wishes come true,” said Del Mar Activities Director Larry Lopez. “The students go out for donations from local businesses and fundraise to help pay for the granting of these wishes.”

This year, junior Josefina Hernandez wished for new shoes for herself and her siblings Jose and Arcelia. The school community made this simple wish come true by supplying the shoes and, for good measure, movie tickets, passes to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for Josefina’s family, and a variety of gift cards good for dinner, dessert, and a small shopping spree.

Seniors Millie Del Carmen and Ruth Rocha also received gift cards for a shopping spree, dinner, dessert, movie tickets, and even board games to play together. Del Carmen's wish was for a night out with her family, and Rocha wished to spend more time with her sisters. 

Meanwhile, junior Isela Zapien wanted to acknowledge the hard work of her parents by wishing for them to have a night out by themselves, because they never had time for themselves.

“Both my parents work really hard. They sacrifice so much for me. They’ve given me a loving home, and they always think about everybody else before themselves,” Zapien said through tears. “They model a beautiful marriage, going strong 19 years. They’ve given me unconditional love.”

Del Mar custodian and junior varsity (JV) football coach Jesse Ramirez was also recognized for his service to the school with tickets to an upcoming 49ers football game, a football signed by all the players on the JV team, and a video of the team thanking him for his work.

“This was so unexpected,” Ramirez said.

The Del Mar community also raised $2,200 to donate to Cancer Care Point, a nonprofit organization dedicated to caring for cancer patients, in fulfillment of junior Angel Zepeda’s wish to honor the memory of her sister, who died from cancer at the age of six.

“Neuroblastoma is a cancer that takes effect in the nervous system and spreads throughout the body,” said Zepeda. “At the age of three [my sister] was diagnosed with a survival rate of 30% and would always say she wouldn’t give up. She passed away at the age of six, and on her last day she lost her eyesight and asked my mother to place her hand on everyone’s cheek, because although she can’t see she could still feel. Just like now, I can’t physically see her, but I can still feel her.”

Finally, sophomore Patricia Ramos shared a “goodbye” letter with her older sister, senior Gabrielle Ramos, to commemorate their last year in high school together before Gabrielle goes off to college.

“I’ve always looked up to you,” said Patricia. “You’ve been my inspiration for as long as I can remember, and although I won’t be waking up to see your beautiful face every morning when this school year’s over, I will remember that you are one step closer to fulfilling your dreams and achieving your goals. I hope that in the future I will become as kindhearted and as determined as you are.”

Lopez started the district’s tradition of Winter Wishes six years ago when he was the activities director at Branham High School. The events have grown in size and scope every year.

The district’s next set of Winter Wish events takes place at Branham and Westmont High Schools on Friday, December 9.

CUHSD’s Season of Giving culminates on January 14, 2017, when students from the district’s five comprehensive high schools will gather together to prepare meals for the Bay Area chapter of Kids Against Hunger, which works to feed hungry children in the United States and the rest of the world.

The Season of Giving ends on February 3 when Prospect High holds the last Winter Wish event of the school year.