by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Samantha Gleaton Photography

Giving Big

volunteer_garcia1Kathleen Garcia’s first experience with Vista’s Big Give (VBG) started way back in the fifth grade when her class made gift baskets filled with homemade blankets and toys and brought them to two Make-A-Wish children. “The moment I saw their faces I knew that this was something I wanted to do again and again.” The original idea behind VBG was to bring all the schools of Vista Unified School District together to join with the community for a week each year and raise money for the San Diego Make-A-Wish Foundation. Kathleen has been a part of the leadership team ever since. She’s helped plan small school events like wish grams or class competitions, and bigger ones like speaking on behalf of VBG at city hall or school board meetings, even spearheading full-fledged benefit concerts and performances.

At Vista High School, Kathleen has been an ASB class officer for all four years. She is now senior class president and is in charge of all senior activities. She also volunteers at Palomar Health Hospital, interning to provide clinical care for patients on various floors. Experiences in Vista and beyond have led her to want to be a pediatric oncologist. About her family, Kathleen doesn’t even know where to begin. “I love them to death. We are a very close family and tend to do most activities together.” She joked, “Although my parents were very sporty they ended up with three very artsy children.” Her sister has danced since infancy, her brother enjoys drawing and plays multiple instruments, and Kathleen sings and dances. Her parents have been her biggest supporters, and Kathleen’s involvement with VBG coincides with their life outlook. “They taught me how important it is to give back and follow your dreams.”

Name: Kathleen Garcia
Community: Vista
Volunteer Affiliation: Vista’s Big Give
Family: Mother – Laura; Father – Sisto; Sister – Aundrea; Brother – Louie
Hobbies: Volunteering, reading, singing, family, interning


Vista’s Big Give has grown immensely. Planning now begins in September, with students and community members coming together until the big Wish Week arrives. VBG has a motto: Many Hearts, One Community. Volunteers are definitely needed, one heart at a time. “There is nothing more rewarding than the feeling you had a part in granting wishes,” Kathleen smiled. “Everyone wants to believe that there is magic in the world, and when I work with amazing people – not only to directly sponsor two wishes, but also raise enough money to grant countless others – it makes me realize there is magic in the world, and that it is created by the goodness of our hearts.”

Group: Vista’s Big Give
Purpose: To bring together all the schools in the district and the community to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in San Diego