Granting Christmas wishes Kilkenny family’s mission to spread Christmas cheer enters its 11th year

Lisa Ingebrand,

Earnest Effort Christmas Wish volunteers Halle Rice, Ellie Rice, and Laney Rice of Kilkenny pose for a photo as they unload basketfuls of wish-granting items. The girls’ mom, Heidi Ernste, began the local non-profit in 2011 after she reached out to others to help someone in need. The anonymous, nomination-based program is set to grant the wishes of more than 30 individuals and families in need this Christmas. (Photo courtesy of Heidi Ernste)

Christmas wishes really do come true.

The Heidi Erntse family of Kilkenny makes sure of it.

For more than a decade, the Ernstes have spearheaded a nomination-based, wishgranting program called Earnest Effort Christmas Wish to provide extra cheer to local individuals and families in need with the help of many generous and anonymous donors.

Last year, Earnest Effort Christmas Wish granted more than 30 wishes. This year, it will likely be more.

“It grows every year,” Heidi stated. “Our first year, we set out to help one family, and we collected so many things that we were able to help two families... I never dreamed it would grow into something this big. It’s just amazing how it all comes together.”

It all started simply and unexpectedly, a few weeks before Christmas 2011, when Heidi ran into an old classmate while she was out shopping.

“I hadn’t seen her in years, so I struck up a conversation and asked her if she was ready for the holidays... And, in that moment, she was brought to tears about where she was in life and how she was going through some serious life changes,” she explained. “I listened for about 15 minutes, consoling her through her sobs as people stared and walked by.”

With a heavy heart, Heidi eventually parted ways with her old classmate but the powerful encounter had made an impact. It left her feeling helpless.

“I had no idea what to do, but as I drove out of the parking lot that day, I couldn’t help but...

To see more on this story pick up the November 24, 2022 print edition of the Montgomery Messenger or the LifeEnterprise paper.


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