For more than a dozen years, One Simple Wish has operated with a simple goal in mind: Find out what children in foster care want more than anything, and get it for them.

To do this, the nonprofit works with agencies across the United States to maintain a wish list on its website. Donors can then go there, select a wish, pay the amount it will cost, and One Simple Wish purchases and sends the item on the donor's behalf.

Now fulfilling the dreams of 25,000 kids a year, it's a long way from founder Danielle Gletow starting the organization out of her home in Ewing in 2008.

In those early days, she said, the community partners were mostly social services agencies in and around Mercer County.

But even a quarter-million (or more) kids later, One Simple Wish retains its Jersey roots — while remaining compassionate about making foster children feel whole.

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It doesn't matter why or how, according to Gletow.

"The core of it is still being an organization that can give children exactly what they're asking for at the exact right time," she said.

By partnering with government agencies without being specifically affiliated with them, One Simple Wish bypasses much of the bureaucratic red tape Gletow and her husband experienced themselves when they decided to become foster parents about 15 years ago.

She said government programs provide a lot to these kids, but they can't provide everything.

Her organization works to fill in some of those gaps, especially considering that what a particular government entity can offer may vary widely from state to state, or even county to county.

One Simple Wish also does not receive public funds, relying on its donors as well as corporate sponsors.

"We wanted to continue to do more to both educate the public about what was happening in the foster care system, but also to give them really tangible ways that they can get involved in helping specific kids, as opposed to just a cause," Gletow said.

And while children typically "age out" of the foster system by age 21, either not being adopted out or reunited with their biological family, there's no such limit for One Simple Wish.

The nonprofit's operations are mostly remote these days although the staff does maintain an office in Hamilton, and more information can be found at onesimplewish.org.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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