EXCLUSIVE: Future & FreeWishes Foundation Holds 6th Annual Winter Wishland For Children Of Atlanta
by Staff Editor
Originating about seven years ago, Atlanta hip hop icon Future Hendrix, alongside mother Stephanie Jester and sister Tia Wilburn-Anderson began using their non-profit organization The Freewishes Foundation, their public charity that would ultimately be the start of their journey on giving back to Atlanta families.
Future and The FreeWishes Foundation brought out hundreds of families and their children to Atlanta’s Bessie Branham Park on Sunday (Dec. 22), a park where Nayvadius “Future” Wilburn played as a child, which was remodeled into a Winter Wishland Extravaganza for children to enjoy a magical giving Christmas experience.
For the sixth year, Atlanta families are receiving extra help for the gifts and expenses that are expected to come during the holidays. The wishland offered children plenty of stations where they could go and receive treats, entertainment, and free prizes. Station stops included face painting, s’mores, cotton candy, Santa & Mrs. Claus, a North Pole experience, stockings, balloons, toy giveaways, bikes, and food.
Children were even able to enter themselves into raffles where they could choose between winning a bike or a tablet. Special surprises included live performances by JFly’s creation Under 21 The Band, a live DJ, and circus acts. Future has stated that he wants the experience that’s not your average toy drive, and he accomplished just that.
Making an appearance, Future showed up to the event accompanied by son Future Zahir Wilburn. Taking pictures with families upon appearance, he shares his appreciation to everyone in attendance with friends and family by his side, and contributes to the distribution of free giveaways.
Stephanie Jester, the mother of Nayvadius “Future,” took the time to share for an exclusive interview to discuss what she hopes to expect from the event, how the family’s foundation originated, and future plans for the foundation. Check it out!
ARIEL: What do you expect to come from today’s event?
STEPHANIE: “What I expect is for the children, the families to come out and just be happy, and to leave away with just such a warm, full heart of just thankfulness and gratefulness because we have so much to offer to the kids today with all the toys, the hoodies, the food, and fun. And not only that, we have funnel cakes today. Whenever we go to the fair, we always look for the funnel cakes so we decided to incorporate that into today’s event.”
ARIEL: I know you started the foundation with Future and his sister Tia, when did it start, and why?
STEPHANIE: “It started like about seven years ago, when Future was on a rise in his career, and so we thought it was just only the right thing to do is to give back. I taught my children whenever you’re blessed, you’re blessed to be a blessing. And so, it was just so profound that we need to put this foundation together so that he can give back to his community that he grew up in.”
ARIEL: Do you see any plans or additions coming for the foundation in 2020, or even in the future?
STEPHANIE: “What I do want to do is continue with our education fund, or scholarship fund, we’re going to continue to push that and also look for donations in corporations to help us to give back and to be able to sponsor a lot of the kids that are in college. As well as our seniors, we’re looking at implementing a utility program because as you know a lot of seniors actually need some help during the holidays and not only during the holidays, but just during the winter season when the gas bill is so high so I would definitely like to see that activation put in place for 2020.”
ARIEL: What made your foundation turn its head to giving back to the senior citizens specifically?
STEPHANIE: “Because as you know, a lot of the seniors have raised their grandkids, and they’re still raising their grandkids, so I look at the seniors as being our gatekeepers for our families, and a lot of times they go unappreciated. So what I want to do is to let our seniors know that we appreciate everything they do. I was raised by my grandmother, and I just thank God each and everyday for what she instilled in me, so I want to do the same thing and let them know that I appreciate everything that they do for all the children, the grandchildren, and their grands.”
Feature Image Via Erykah Murphy