Can donating makes you a happier person?

A lot of people say that by donating or volunteering their time to Children’s Wishes and Dreams overall has made them a feel better and happier as a person. Some new research has also shown that effortlessly wishing well to someone can also mimic the same effects of a positive mood. 

With the stresses of this modern life, we all need that little break away, whether it’s getting out of town, walking outside, and meeting up with close friends and family. Every waking moment is spent dealing with the anxiety of coping through another day of stress and looking to find a better way to lift your mode.

Can helping others play a role in my well-being? Some past research has confirmed that by being generous has defiantly made a lot of people happier. Other studies show that acts of generosity ignite certain parts of the brain, reducing the effects of stress and anxiety.

The journal of Happiness Studies has researched a lot into different ways to lower anxiety while raising will-being, their new research suggests that just wishing someone well can increases your mood dramatically. 

A psychology professor Douglas A Gentile at the University of Iowa State and his colleagues Dawn M Sweet, and Lanmiao have narrowed down several strategies that have been shown to increase mood, Loving-kindness, interconnectedness, and downward social comparison are the three strategies that have the most potential in boosting the mood of a person.

What can loving-Kindness do for you?

Students were asked by Prof. Gentile and colleagues to use one of the three strategies for 10mins so that they could measure the mood-boosting effects as the students walked around the university building. 

One group of students were told to look at a person and think, “I wish for this person to be happy.” To better evaluate the mood, they were also told to say it with conviction to themselves. This strategy would become known as The Loving Kindness.

The second group of students were told to look at someone and imagine what aspirations, hopes, and feelings that a person may have in common with you. This strategy would be known as the Interconnectedness.

The third group were told to think about a person they may have encountered where their life in relation to that person’s life is compared. This last strategy would be known as The Downword Social Comparison Strategy.

Another group of control students would be added by Prof. Gentile and his colleagues to focus on people’s physical appearance, style, and so on.

Each student who did participate would be asked to fill questioners out before and after the experiment to measure the amount of anxiety, stress, empathy, and happiness levels, all three groups would be compared against the control group for differences in levels.

Data from all the research showed that out of the three strategies used loving-kindness had the highest levels of empathy and happiness, which in turn lowered the levels of anxiety of the group. Just wishing other people well would increase the feeling of caring and connectedness.

On the other hand, downward social showed no increase in mood, which made the group felt less caring and empathetic, this level of mood has also been shown to plays a big factor in anxiety and depression.

Prof. Gentile said, “Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection.”

“It’s a simple strategy that doesn’t take a lot of time that you can incorporate into your daily activities,” and “extending loving-kindness to others worked equally well to reduce anxiety, increase happiness, empathy, and feelings of social connection.” Every donation that helps grant a wish is more than a gift, it’s a blessing for the child and their families who thank you so much for sharing your happiness.


Sometimes we don’t realize how very special they are until a tragedy brings them into focus. 

In the past few years, I have experienced this “treasure chest” of memories several times over, and am so thankful to have them, both the good and the bad, for they all are part of what we had, and have helped pattern our lives. We spend our lives making memories of all kinds. Some more special than others and make us happier, but we have them all. 

Whether we remember things from growing up or the joy and delight of a recent trip or experience, memories can be the greatest treasure and comfort. When times get hard it is comforting to pull strength from those special memories and maybe even divert our attention for a while with more pleasant thoughts. 
That is what I hope our families can feel from the wishes we grant. That they are the treasured memories that will bring them lasting joy and comfort as they remember them over the years.

I would like to think that maybe the memories help to give them some strength to make it through another day. ‘The clouds will come, the wind will blow, and the sun will shine,’ and while we may not be able to keep the clouds away, maybe our wishes give a little bit of sunshine along the way.

– Miss Heidi

“Bubbles on a Cloudy Day”

Wishes and Dreams

We have all seen the logo “Children’s Wishes and Dreams” and have heard them in the news…but what does this non-profit organization do?  We talked to Founder, Heidi Anderson, to see what inspired her to create this non-profit organization that would grant children their “wishes and dreams.”

A long time dancer, Heidi ran her own dance studio in Yakima for many years. A very sweet four-year old dance student wanted nothing more than to dance forever. At this young age, she was diagnosed with leukemia and began the long road of treatments. Throughout her recovery from chemotherapy, she would wear her Mickey Mouse ears on her head and a mask if needed when counts were low. Heidi and the girl’s mom would arrange for private dance lessons if needed, so she could continue her dancing between treatments. She loved Mickey Mouse, and dreamt of going to Disneyland to see Mickey!

The leukemia was proving to be quite the defiant dance partner, so the next step was to receive a bone marrow transplant in Seattle. While the family was away, Heidi and the girl’s students and families wanted to do something to help this little girl get to Disneyland – to see HER dream come true. They planned and orchestrated an original ballet fundraiser called “Snow White and the Eight Dwarfs” – the girl would be represented by the part of the 8th dwarf. (I bet her name would have been Dancer.) The ballet was cast, music choreographed, costumes made, and the location was chosen, The Little Theatre at Eisenhower High School.

“Perhaps they are not stars,
but rather openings in heaven
where the love of our lost ones
pours through and shines down upon us
to let us know they’re happy.”

Eskimo Proverb

Opening night was beautiful! But there was a sad undertone. You see, the day of the performance, the girl gave her final performance and went on to dance in heaven. Her mom told Heidi that when they got the news that the transplant did not work the two of them were in her hospital room just talking. Since it was a cloudy day in Seattle, her mom began blowing bubbles out the window to help the girl take her mind off of everything. The little girl, who had such an incredibly positive outlook on life, her family, and dancing, would find something in each and every day that was special. On this day, she said, “See mom, bubbles look pretty on a cloudy day.”

To Remember the girl

To remember the girl, Heidi asked everyone to blow bubbles for the girl at the park the day after the performance. Sometime later, seeing a display for a wish organization, Heidi said, “That is what I want to do, I want to be able to ensure that no other child’s wish floats away like the bubbles on a cloudy day…” and that began her wish work.

Children’s Wishes & Dreams came 14 years later when she decided to leave another wish organization with the clear goal that the money raised here in Yakima, would stay here for our local children with life-threatening illnesses or severe life-altering conditions.

Jolyssa’s Joy

Life Lesson 1.0: Have Fun Life Lesson 1.1: Make Every Moment Count

Jolyssa is a beautiful, energetic 10-year-old that seems to live by the Life Lessons above. She has the same wishes and dreams of any young lady – to go shopping, spend time with her friends, laugh, play, sing, dance, swim, wrestle with her brothers, go to school, have fun on the weekends, eat popsicles, and look forward to summer vacation fun!

Recently, she was diagnosed with Gorlin’s Syndrome, also known as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, a condition that affects many areas of the body and increases the risk of developing various cancerous and noncancerous tumors. Translation: Jolyssa has to stay out of the sun. With lots of sunscreen, protective clothing, and the loving care of her parents and family, she is leading as normal life as she can. That’s when we met her and learned of her “wish.”

Her 11th birthday was coming in April and she wished for a chance to go on a fun adventure. Our team began suggesting some fun ideas and as soon as we mentioned shopping spree, her face lit up! She had also said that she loves to swim so we thought about the amazing water park at The Great Wolf Lodge that happens to be ALL indoors, and began planning this awesome trip for her and her family.

We wanted to enhance her wish and contacted the Bellevue Square property owner, Kemper Development Company. Guest Services Manager Extraordinaire, Anna Reis, was instrumental in making arrangements for the generous stores who wanted to be a part of this adventure for Jolyssa. Anna helped set up many special treats for Jolyssa and her family, including an upgrade to the hotel room for the two-night stay at the upscale Hyatt Regency Bellevue, restaurant gift cards, games, movie passes and much more. See complete list of contributors below.

From there, the family traveled to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. The indoor water park has over 56,000 square feet of suspension bridges, water slides, spray stations, and swimming fun for the whole family.

Children’s Wishes & Dreams would like to thank the following contributors to making Jolyssa’s wish come true: Kemper Development Company, The Hyatt Regency Bellevue, The Bellevue Collection, Escape Outdoors, Top Pot Doughnuts, Koral Kitchen & Bar, Fireworks, Lincoln Square Cinemas, Red Robin, World Wrapps, Baskin Robins, Luck Strike Power Play, Jamba Juice, Lego, Dooz, Cinnabon, Oh! Chocolate, Vera Bradley.

You can see by the photos that they all had a great time! Jolyssa came in recently to share these pictures and the joy she felt through this wish from Children’s Wishes & Dreams. It’s who we are and what we do. And we love it!


A mother of a critically ill young man called the Children’s Wishes and Dreams office in Yakima asking to fulfill a wish for her son, Johnathon. He wanted a remote controlled, gas-powered helicopter he could fly outside. Heidi Anderson, executive director of Children’s Wishes and Dreams, began her research. She contacted hobby stores and a gentleman who could spend some time with Johnathon to teach him to operate the helicopter beginning with a battery powered unit to practice indoors.

Monday, February 13th, Heidi received a call from Johnathon’s mother informing her that Jonathon was in the hospice unit at Memorial Hospital. Johnathon asked if he could see a real helicopter land and then lift off again. Heidi realized the urgency of her request and began calling the Yakima Firing Center, then being referred to Fort Lewis and then being referred to other military and hospital contacts. After many calls and referrals by Heidi and her assistant, she was notified that the Army had a helicopter in the air and could be at the hospital in twenty minutes. She was able to talk to the flight commander and told him of the specific circumstances with Johnathon’s situation.

Wings so he could fly

Fortunately, Johnathon had a room in the hospital that provided a view of the helicopter landing pad on the roof of the hospital. The Army helicopter landed on the hospital roof and the flight commander and crew went into the hospital and into Johnathon’s room to say hello and present Johnathon with his very own flight wings. The flight crew then left and lifted off from the landing pad only to then inform the mother that Johnathon should continue watching out the window as they honored him with a “fly by” to complete his wish.

What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
~Helen Keller

All of these actions to fulfill Johnathon’s wish came to be in a very short period of time, less than an hour. Nobody knew just how timely and special this event would be to everyone involved, especially Johnathon.

He passed away shortly after the helicopter flew by his window. They had given him his wings so he could fly.