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Members of Grace United Methodist Church, Peru and Center for Youth and Family Solutions, La Salle talk Monday morning at the church about the gifts collected by Grace United for 104 foster children served by the center. Shown here are (from left) Virginia Pokryfke, Marzita Setchell and Toni Lucas of the church and Anna Wright and Missy Benjamin of the center. NewsTribune photo/Jeff Dankert
Recent developments in foster care in Illinois Valley
The Center for Youth and Family Solutions took over foster service contracts from Catholic Charities in La Salle due to fallout between Peoria Diocese and the state of Illinois over the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act. The nonprofit Center for Youth and Family Solutions formed last year and in March 2012 was contracted by the state to provide foster care and adoption services. The center has offices in northern Illinois and eastern Iowa. — By Jeff Dankert
Two women from Center for Youth and Family Solutions walked into Grace United Methodist Church on Monday morning and saw a pile of gifts under the tree. “What do you think?” church member Toni Lucas said.
“Overwhelming. It’s great,” said Missy Benjamin of the center. Benjamin and Anna Wright of the center in La Salle spent the next hour loading gifts into a van for 104 area foster children and shuttling them to the center. On Thursday, when the center holds its annual Christmas party, the children will get their gifts.
“It was very nice for Grace United to come forward and provide our foster children with Christmas gifts,” Wright said. “Had they not helped, they may not have received any.”
The center provides foster care services for the area. This year it teamed up with Grace United in Peru to supply the gifts. The congregation stepped up, but at the last minute, three gifts still were needed, Lucas said. It took a little “power shopping” to fill the rest, she said.
“It’s been amazing for the congregation to get behind this,” Lucas said. “How sad not to be with your real mommy and daddy at Christmas. But there will be a lot of little happy faces Thursday.”
Wright and Benjamin received even better news after they were done loading gifts. “We’re on for next year,” Lucas said. “It’s a permanent partnership.”