In 2005, The Wish Project’s founder, Donna Hunnewell left her corporate job when she was expecting her first child. Used to having a busy schedule, she knew she wanted to keep herself engaged while she waited for the birth of her son. She knew that she wanted to help people, so she contacted multiple social service agencies in the Lowell area to see how she could help. They all told her they needed goods for their clients. The clients couldn’t focus on how to get housing or leaving an abusive situation if they were focused on needing diapers or formula or a car seat for their child. So began Donna’s idea of how to help these agencies. She started out by tapping into her network of friends and acquaintances, asking for the particular items that the caseworkers identified as a current need. Donna would drive around in her minivan with her son Bobby strapped in his car seat and pick up donations from donors. She would then deliver the items to the caseworker requesting them. From this simple idea The Wish Project furniture, clothing, and diaper bank was created.
After spending several years in a 13,000 sq. ft. location in Lowell, our landlord advised us that if we wanted to stay we would have to pay double the rent, so the search was on for new premises!
We are now located in a 7500 sq. ft. building in North Chelmsford. We have a staff of 9 permanent employees. We work with over 30 social service agencies in the greater Lowell and Merrimack Valley area. All of the items that we give out are donated and delivered to us by incredibly generous community members. In 2019 we gave out 600 tons of goods to over 60,000 clients and recycled an additional 100 tons of goods. We provide our partner agencies and their clients with essentials such as furniture, household goods, baby items and clothing every day, in addition to the many projects that we do throughout the year.
About three thousand people (individuals and corporate groups) volunteer their time at the warehouse every year to help us serve the homeless and low income population in our area. With our small staff we would never be able to do what we do without our group of loyal and hard-working volunteers.
Every year we continue to grow and adapt our services to the changing needs of the population that we serve. Our challenge in 2020 is, of course, continuing to provide the essential services that we provide to our clients in this time of COVID-19. We have had to severely limit the number of volunteers that we can have on premises at any one time, and have had to adapt our procedures for donating and for receiving items. This is all accomplished now with scheduled appointments and social distancing. We look forward to getting back to normal and to welcoming our volunteers and clients back into our facility!