RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A local learning center is working to raise $10,600 for critically ill children by April 30. The newly-opened Learning Experience in Rio Rancho has partnered with Make-A-Wish for a month-long campaign.

Center Director Monica Nieto said Lets Grant Wishes allows the students at the center to learn about philanthropy. “We have an ongoing philanthropy program. This program gives the children skills through activities and lessons that teaches them kindness, sharing, and helping others,” Nieto said.

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Students do hands-on activities that coincide with their weekly themes such as caring and friendships. “Our motto here is ‘It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, it’s the size of your heart that matters,'” Nieto said.

Instructor Alyssa Trujillo said she believes teaching these concepts at a young age will help the students as they go through life. “It helps them through life as they get older, and it’s easier to teach them when they’re younger because then they just grow up and remember what they learned,” Trujillo said.

Nieto said they are $2,600 into their goal. “It sounds like it’s really far off, but with the efforts we’re making and how we are exposing ourselves to the community, I’m very confident that we’ll reach at least half of our goal by April 30th. But I think the biggest picture is that we’re teaching our children the concept of helping others and being giving to others,” Nieto said. “So whether we reach our goal or not, it’s really about the impact it’s made on our community and our children, and of course those children that we will be able to grant wishes to.”

The classes also participate in penny wars, where students bring in whatever spare change they have to include in their class money jar. The class who accumulates the most money will win a pizza party with the learning center’s mascot, Bubbles the elephant.

“I’m proud to be a part of it because even working with children who don’t have critical illnesses, thinking of them having to go through that breaks my heart as an educator,” Trujillo said.

Community members looking to support the learning center’s April goal can donate online.