Watch Now: Bloomington Volunteers Collect Gifts For Foster Children | Local news
BLOOMINGTON – Parents of foster children say winter is the most difficult time for children.
That’s why Bloomington’s Treasure Davis said this holiday season she is making sure foster children “are heard, that they are loved” and that they are given something that is right for them. is clean.
She and Lisa Yenicek, of Normal, are co-leaders of Foster Tree, which started as a program under Compass Church in Bloomington and has since formed its own entity. The group strives to provide gifts to 312 foster children, ranging from newborns to 18 years old. Donations are always accepted.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Center for Youth and Family Services accept and distribute gifts.
Davis said in a phone interview that these children “have lived the most in their young lives” and can be very emotional while on vacation.
Yenicek added that the children were taken from their homes – sometimes with nothing but clothes on their backs. And it just wasn’t their fault.
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Yenicek knows a little girl whose previous house was so dirty that she couldn’t take anything with her when she left, including her toys.
“Can you imagine a little kid like not having their favorite stuffed animal?” Yenicek asked. Foster Tree made the girl’s wish come true: a karaoke machine.
Yenicek knows another kid who requested a tablet for FaceTime with his sister.
Yenicek said, “There is always a child every year that ends up making me cry.”
She said the program is now in its ninth year, having been started by Reverend Chris Shandrow and only serving 11 children. The program was then passed on to Yenicek and Davis.
The two volunteers have become more involved over the years, and they still receive a lot of help from their congregation.
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As a mother of three, Davis knows her own children have big Christmas wishes. So she started asking what the foster kids really wanted as gifts.
This year, children could ask for two needs and two wishes. For over 300 children in need, that’s a long shopping list of 1,245 items.
Davis said when they started asking for wishes, kids only asked for basic things like socks and sweatshirts. Since then, they have been able to see the children’s personalities come out.
And the kids noticed it. Yenicek believes they have built a reputation with children that shows they can count on Foster Tree to give them something special.
She said a man donated a video game console to a little boy. The man then volunteered at a summer camp where he heard the child rave about the games – how they offered an escape and a way out.
She said the volunteers don’t see the children when they drop off the gifts, but hear their stories.
âWe just think it’s our passion to help these kids because they’re the most vulnerable,â Davis said.
Yenicek hopes to be able to meet all of their requests this year.
“Somehow it always happens,” she said.
Those wishing to donate to Foster Tree can either make online payments for certain items or drop off new, unwrapped gifts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Compass Church, 4114 Oakland Ave., Bloomington. People should check the online gift request list at nourrittree.online/s/shop before making a purchase. Gift cards are especially needed.
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Fun to give
Contact Brendan Denison at (309) 820-3238. Follow Brendan Denison on Twitter: @BrendanDenison