Sioux Falls, SD
The dazzling light display won't be the only draw to Christmas at the Western Mall Friday evening.
The annual holiday fundraiser for Make-A-Wish is also giving away stuffed animals to young visitors. Organizers hope the giveaway will put more mall visitors in a giving mood, themselves.
Hundreds of bears have emerged from a holiday hibernation to make their den inside a gift box at the Western Mall.
"Who doesn't love a stuffed animal or a stuffed bear at Christmas time?" Make-A-Wish President & CEO Paul Krueger said.
The bears have been donated to Make-A-Wish through the years. Each bear is fitted with a collar featuring the Make-A-Wish star. They're becoming stuffed souvenirs for kids who stop by the Christmas at the Western Mall holiday light show.
"To remember that they came out to the light show and to hopefully make a connection with Make-A-Wish and the kids that we help," Krueger said.
So far, donations have not kept pace with last Christmas. Make-A-Wish thinks that the mild weather outside may have something to do with the drop in donations.
"Last year, we had a lot of snow on the ground and cold and right now, not much snow and so I think a lot of people are maybe doing holiday lights outside, more than coming inside," Krueger said.
The Christmas light snow is one of the major fundraising events for Make-A-Wish and its efforts to brighten the lives of sick kids. And now a pack of cuddly bears will help more families embrace the idea of giving for the holidays.
The bear giveaway at the Western Mall goes until 9:30 Friday night. If there are any stuffed bears left over, Make-A-Wish will give away the rest Saturday night, while supplies last. If you would like to donate to Make-A-Wish, click here