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May 7, 2013

Foster Grandparents hard at work

MT. VERNON — — Each day, seniors with the One Hope United Foster Grandparent program work to make the lives of area children brighter.

And, during a week meant to celebrate the work they do in the community, they are continuing to brighten the lives of children by creating homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses.

"All Foster Grandparents across Illinois are making cards this year," said Jennifer Witzel, director of the local Foster Grandparent program. "Last year they got together to make cards and they really enjoyed it."

Foster Grandparents program has 35 volunteers in Jefferson, Wayne, Franklin and Williamson counties, and volunteered a total of 38,216 hours serving children in local schools, day cares and maternity centers. The volunteers spend each day tutoring, mentoring and offering unconditional caring in order for the children they serve to succeed.

The volunteers gathered to make cards that will be distributed through Random Cards of Kindness, Inc., a charity founded by a young lady in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The mission statement of the organization is "to create positive and inspirational homemade cards for children with life-threatening illnesses."

"Love Letters cards are always bright, cheerful and positive," information from Random Cards of Kindness states. "We create cards for girls and boys from the ages of birth to 18 years old. These cards are unique becuase they are created by hand, using stamps, stickers, scrapbook paper and art supplies. Inside each card is a positive inspirational message written to give children faith, courage and the will to survive."

Foster Grandparent Susan Neal said she not only enjoys making the cards, but likes that "I'm brightening a child's day."

"The card will put a smile on a child's face," added volunteer Cyndy Dycus.

Witzel said because many of the Foster Grandparent volunteers have been touched by cancer and other illness, they understand the joy and hope that can come from a card with a positive message inside.

"And, it's very fun," added volunteer Tina Trotter.

Witzel said the group that met on Monday would complete about 300 cards, which, added to the total from other volunteers across the state, would mean thousands of cards will be sent to Florida for distribution to children across the nation.

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