by Doris Elmore
Stacy Welch keeps her daughter Shalynn’s memory alive with many activities through Shalynn’s Hope, Inc. They are always looking for ways to help those who live in the surrounding communities. Three years ago, Shalynn’s Hope began working with a group of high schoolers from ALAH, Arcola and Tuscola. They were able to send these students to Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute at EIU and Mid-Year in Bloomington for the past three years.
These students have taken on the name Operation Hope and work hard to find creative ways they can make a difference in our communities. Operation Hope’s first campaign for this year was to purchase backpacks, fill them with gender and age-appropriate items for children who have been removed from their home due to neglect and/or other dangerous situations. Each bag is packed with love and is filled with comfort items as well as necessities.
The group set out on a shopping trip on December 30 to purchase everything needed to pack the backpacks. After four hours of shopping, they headed back with 28 backpacks, 4 shopping carts full of clothes, stuffed animals, toiletries, toys, etc. The next job was to stuff and label the bags for another two hours. Once the backpacks were ready, the group took 14 backpacks for boys and girls ages infant-17 to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Tuscola. Another 14 backpacks were delivered to the Piatt County Sheriff’s Office on January 8. The backpacks will be kept in their cruisers to distribute in the event they need to remove a child from their home. Not only does it supply the child with some necessities, but it also helps to form a trusting relationship between the officer and the child.
Stacy would like to express her appreciation to anyone who has donated to Shalynn’s Hope: Dr. Mark Hudson DMD, Monticello for the toothpaste donation, Denise Jones for helping shop and pack backpacks, and to anyone who participated in the annual Shalynn’s Shuffle. Without support from others, they would not be able to provide support to our local communities.
Students who helped are identified in the picture cutlines. This is an amazing group of teenagers who have their heart in the right place and enjoy helping those in need.
by Doris Elmore