For children, gifts are usually one of the most exciting parts of Christmas. While opening presents and playing with new toys is thrilling, some kids find happiness in giving rather than receiving. For 12-year-old Jonathan Werner, this is certainly the case. After learning that his father grew up in the foster system and didn't have much of a Christmas, the Boy Scout from Minnesota decided to get gifts and basic supplies for children in foster families and domestic violence shelters in four counties and part of a fifth.
To do so, Werner sold bags of flavored popcorn and chocolate-coated pretzels, setting a table by the entrance of big stores during the fall. “Having him do a project like this and knowing that where I was those years, I could have had somebody like [Jonathan], it would have been really special,” his dad, Steven Kolk, told Good Morning America. “I'm proud of what he chose to do and the number of people that he can reach with this project.”
After selling over $56,000 in popcorn, he headed to multiple stores to pick gifts for 138 children. He chose his presents based on letters from the children and lists that social workers shared with him. “He reads what every kid writes and tries to find something he thinks they are specifically going to like,” Jonathan’s mother, Serena Kolk, told 11Alive.
This year, he bought over 600 hundred presents, from clothes to Barbie dolls and LEGO sets. He estimated the total to be around $11,300. Once the shopping was done, he set up a gift-wrapping workshop at home, getting fellow Boy Scouts, his family, and other community members to help him have everything ready by Christmas. “I just want to make kids happy for Christmas and let them know they are loved and appreciated,” said Jonathan, whose goal is to get Christmas gifts for every foster child in Minnesota.
His project has even sparked more good deeds among his neighbors. “I've also seen it inspire our other children and friends of ours and other people in the community at the stores and things like that and so it's really special,” Kolk shares. “It really brings a tear to your eye and makes you feel like he's really making a difference for people.”
Jonathan Werner, a 12-year old Boy Scout from Minnesota, sold popcorn to buy Christmas gifts for 138 foster kids and other vulnerable children.
Learn more about his endeavor in the video below.
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