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NIU students serve foster teens with hundreds of toy donations

DeKALB – Northern Illinois University seniors studying corporate communication attended a class project geared toward helping provide holiday gifts to teenagers in foster care.

Dana Mazurkiewicz, senior and student in Group Communication 402, said she was happy to do it. She makes a habit of serving those in need.

“When Professor [David] Henningsen told us our project, I got really excited,” Mazurkiewicz said. “I try to do a service project each year. “

Mazurkiewicz was one of three students in her group that led the class. She and her classmates, Austin LaSusa and Ashlee Gniech, through working with different businesses, received 164 donated gifts for teens.

The class gathered a total of 540 gifts.

Items included sports balls, board games, cosmetics, clothing and other things teenagers might like.

The gifts will go to foster children with Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, which cares for 2,000 foster children a year throughout Illinois.

Mandy Widtfeldt, the community engagement manager for Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, let the seniors know what their effort means.

“The kids will be so thankful,” Widtfeldt said. “Having this will show them that people care and are thinking of them.”

LaSusa said it was awesome to help the foster children.

“It’s nice to know we got to help out the older foster kids,” he said.

Henningsen said the project aimed to collect the donations for teenagers in foster care those age groups can be forgotten. He mentioned how when people think of Toys for Tots, people get toys meant for toddlers, not what might a teenager want.

Mazurkiewicz said the project taught her how to communicate with a group and how to network, but said the true value for her was the project itself.

“Giving back is a lot of fun,” she said.

Mazurkiewicz said that when she and her classmates saw all the gifts they received, she felt great about it. The positive feeling amplified when she saw how much the others were able to raise.

Gniech said she learned a lot about working in a group and she also liked talking to the different businesses about the project.

“It showed how many people were willing to help,” Gniech said.

Widtfeldt said the holiday season is a hard time for a lot of foster children.

“There are a lot of kids who don’t get through of much at Christmas,” she said, adding that even in the tough times, deeds such as the service project are important. “It’s the idea that people are reaching out and they care.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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