TLU

The National Society of Leadership and Success chapter at Texas Lutheran University is collecting letters to Santa for a Kerrville teen, who plans to give them to the Macy's Believe Campaign.

A student group from Texas Lutheran University is looking to collect letters to Santa from the community in hopes of helping a Kerrville teen make a difference this Christmas season.

The National Society of Leadership and Success for the past two weeks has collected about 600 letters for Kerrville-Tivy High School student Zackary Reyna, 18, who in turn is giving them to Macy’s Believe Campaign.

For every letter the campaign receives, Macy’s will donate $1 toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation — an organization that granted Reyna his own wish in 2010.

“In 2007, Reyna was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm and given only one year to live,” a press release said. “In 2010, through the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, he was granted his wish of riding every ride at Disney World. Since then, he has been paying it forward and raising money for kids with critical illnesses.”

Reyna’s goal is to collect more than 54,000 letters, the release said.

The organization first heard about Reyna’s efforts through their group president Katie Gatto.

“I was speaking with my friend’s mom at a football game and she teaches at an elementary school in Kerrville. I told her we were looking for a community service opportunity and she was like ‘Well, Kerrville does this annual letters to Santa drive through a local high school student who has been impacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation,’” Gatto said. “She sent me all the information and I pitched it to the NSLS executive board and we kind of just ran with it.”

Since the group stepped in to help, the TLU community responded in full by surpassing the goal of 500 letters and writing more than 600 in two weeks.

“College students are sometimes short on time or short on money and so this was just a really easy thing for students to do,” Gatto said. “In passing, we’ve had tables set up and they can write a quick letter.”

National Society of Leadership and Success board member Miranda Johnson said they wanted to do something that would bring in the entire TLU community.

“Whenever Katie brought this up to us I think we were all just jumping at the chance,” she said. “We weren’t really sure what the reaction was going to be from the students. We weren’t sure if college students would be excited to write a letter to Santa so we were kind of apprehensive at first. But we felt confident in the students’ abilities to deliver.”

TLU director of marketing and communications Ashlie Ford said this is just another way for TLU to get involve in community outreach.

“Community outreach is something that is very important to TLU. It’s a huge part of our mission and I think it’s outstanding that they surpassed 500 letters,” she said. “We don’t have a large student body population. We have about 1,300 and so that is almost half of our student body. I think we’ll hopefully get quite a few more before the deadline.”

National Society of Leadership and Success president-elect Porfirio Dubon’s family foundation — The Dubon Family Foundation — also plans to match a dollar for every letter collected by the TLU group.

Macy’s has raised about $122 million for Make-A-Wish and helped them grant more than 900 wishes, Macy’s website said.

Letters can be dropped off at the Dean’s Office in the Alumni Student enter before 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29. Individuals also can print letter templates at bit.ly/2BCvhmL and email them to pdubon@tlu.edu or drop them off. The group plans to deliver the letters to Kerrville on Friday, Nov. 30.

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