When Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade pulled back the curtain, Keinsha Sands and her three younger siblings saw their Christmas wish list sitting right in front of them.
Bunk beds. Laptop computer. Barbie dolls. Cookware.
“I’m so happy they can get what they need and what they want,”said Sands, 24. The kids, ages nine to 15, could barely contain their excitement as they whizzed around Wade with their gifts, thanking him profusely.
“Now we can fill the space under the Christmas tree,” she said.
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Three families were delighted to receive new furniture, toys and electronics at a special event Saturday hosted by Wade’s charity, The Wade’s World Foundation, the Miami Herald Wish Book program and Global Furniture in Miami Gardens. Wade’s group worked with Miami Herald Charities to identify families in need of some help this holiday season.
Sands has had to add a demanding home life onto her school schedule after she stepped up to raise her siblings. They were not safe in their previous home with a family friend, so she decided to take them in herself. It hasn’t been easy.
“It’s hard. I have to work around their schedule all the time,” she said.
Earlier, when Wade met the Sands family to take pictures, he recalled the positive influence of his older sister, Tragil, when Wade greeted them.
“When I heard about you, I thought about how my sister did that, too,” he told Sands. “Sisters are cool.”
Wade unveiled a room full of furniture and gifts for three different families who were nominated for the Wish Book. Each time, children and adults walked in with wide eyes and open mouths as they saw their gifts.
Adriana Mendoza and her three children got beds, a dresser and several toys for the kids. They even got a couch selected just for Mendoza.
“That’s my favorite color,” she said, as she sat down next to Wade.
Robert DiPietro, the Wish Book coordinator for Miami Herald Charities, said the partnership with Wade’s foundation made it possible to fulfill the Wish Book’s mission.
“The partnership between the Miami Herald Wish Book and Wade’s World Foundation provided a difference in three families lives today that they will always cherish,” she said.
In the third room, Jeannette Pena and her five children were shocked to see everything they wanted before them. The single mother has had to deal with a landlord who has been unwilling to fix basic problems in their apartment and evicted them.
Now they have a new dining room set, couch and bed. Afterward, Pena expressed her feelings simply.
“This may be the best Christmas ever,” she said.
Her children eagerly agreed.
“It is! It is!”
How to help: Wish Book is trying to help hundreds of families in need this year. To donate, pay securely at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook. To give via your mobile phone, text WISH to 41444. For information, call 305-376-2906 or email wishbook @MiamiHerald.com. (Most requested items: laptops and tablets for school, furniture, accessible vans.) Read more at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook