NIU students gather hundreds of holiday gifts for a forgotten - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

NIU students gather hundreds of holiday gifts for a forgotten age group

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The holiday season gives folks the chance to be around family, but there are children out there who don't have one to call their own. Northern Illinois University students used part of this fall semester to make a difference in those kids' lives.

Some foster children may not know what it's like to be around loved ones during the holidays, or even open up presents. NIU Department of Communication Professor David Henningsen and his 56 pupils created a project helping a specific age group that sometimes gets forgotten.

"I think of it kind of as the Santa Claus effect, you get the young kids who believe in Santa and think all these gifts are kind of coming from Santa, but the foster system has older kids too and the older kids want to be able to get gifts too."

Professor Henningsen wanted to put the focus on 12 to 17-year-olds, so his students started collecting brand new gifts for Lutheran Child and Family Services, which is an adoption, foster care, and counseling organization.

"They put together business plans for how LCFS could have successful toy drives and then some of them actually enacted those plans and we raised something like 350 toys." -says Henningsen.

LCFS Bilingual Therapist Christine Spuhler says families appreciate the extra help through donations, but this time of year is never easy for foster kids.

"For the older kids actually it is a stronger emotion because they will soon leave the home and they really didn't have a sense of that ideal home ever." -she says.

These toys can actually reach kids anywhere in Illinois, LCFS workers will deliver the gifts to their Chicago repository and then they'll be given out all over the state.

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