Alicia Wehby of Crystal Lake, who helped organize the Stuff the Duffel charity drive after the death of 5-year-old AJ Freund earlier this year, was one of the recipients of the 2019 Angels in Adoption Award.
This award is given by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute to individuals and organizations who increase awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of safe and loving homes. Wehby was nominated by U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville.
“I was proud to welcome Alicia Wehby to Washington to honor and congratulate her on this much-deserved award,” Underwood, who represents Illinois’ Congressional 14th District, said in a statement released Friday. “In the past year, Alicia has done incredible work to make meaningful change in the lives of foster children and worked to ensure that every child has the resources they need as they enter into their new home.”
Wehby – a mother of four children, including three former foster children whom she adopted – created the donation drive to collect items foster children may need in the first 24 to 48 hours after they’re placed in a new home, such as clothes, pillows, toiletries, school supplies, stuffed animals and toys.
What started as a small community effort escalated into a collection drive with nearly 4,000 duffel bags full of provisions coming from all over the country being collected.
Bags were delivered to Let It Be Us foster care organization in Barrington, Lutheran Social Services, Children’s Home and Aid, CASA of McHenry County, Willow Creek of Crystal Lake Foster Services and other organizations. The fundraiser also helped create a nonprofit called Second Bridge, which seeks to provide additional support for foster children beyond the first 24 to 48 hours they’re in a new home. For information on Second Bridge, visit secondbridge.org.
All 2019 honorees are recognized at the Angels in Adoption Gala every fall in Washington, D.C.