11-Year-Old Boy Raises Money to Buy Christmas Gifts for Foster Children

11-Year-Old Boy Raises Money to Buy Christmas Gifts for Foster Children

December 20, 2022 by Cathy Stack

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. — An 11-year-old scout proved that holiday heroes can take many forms. Jonathan (JJ) Werner sold $46,194 in popcorn in order to purchase holiday gifts for foster children in his community. Kindhearted Jonathan has dedicated himself to making a difference in his community through service projects. With the commission he earned on popcorn sales for his scout troop – which totaled about $5,800 – he bought presents for 120 foster children.

“I adopted all the foster care kids in Kanabec County and Isanti County for Christmas,” Jonathan shared.

When Jonathan first informed Ann Stackpool-Gunderson, the Supervisor of Isanti Health and Human Services, of his gift-giving mission, she admitted some skepticism. She wondered how a young boy could really pull off the ambitious plan.

“How is he gonna do this? I mean it’s a lot of kids and he’s one youth and how’s he gonna pull this off?” Ann asked herself at the time. “He was undeterred.”

Jonathan completed his goal with limited resources. He enlisted his mother, Serena, to help him with the shopping and wrapping. With only a van and a cart, the dynamic mother-and-son duo made holiday magic happen.

“He loves to give back to his community and people in need,” Serena said.

Jonathan’s own father had grown up in foster care. The boy’s generous gift-giving campaign was a wonderful way to honor his father as well as to bring the holiday spirit to other foster children.

“My dad spent 14 years in foster care and, based upon stories that he had being in foster care, it doesn’t really sound like they had much of a Christmas,” Jonathan said.

The holiday season is typically known as a magical time for children, filled with fun school plays, festive decorations, parties and family gatherings. However, for children in the foster system, it sometimes brings stress and loneliness.

Some foster children have experienced a background of neglect. They often don’t get to enjoy festive family gatherings and they have few presents to open. As they witness many of their school peers celebrating the holidays, it may stir up feelings of abandonment.

Jonathan hoped his presents would help make the children foster care feel special during the holiday season. He delivered the festively wrapped gifts to Isanti Health and Human Services. Ann was surprised and grateful for his hard work and generous gesture. He then dropped off more presents in the neighboring county of Kanabec. Jonathan hopes to expand his gift giving mission every year, so it spreads to each county.

The Foundation For a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Jonathan Werner is a hero. His action is a great example of the value of generousity. His holiday gift-giving mission will help put a smile on countless children’s faces, bring them joy and offer hope when they need it most. Jonathan provides us all with an important reminder of the true spirit and meaning of giving.

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