In 2007, the McAveeney family opened their hearts & home to a precious baby in need of a temporary home. This experience exposed them to a world of vulnerable children couch-hopping, living in abandoned buildings, cars, garages, or living in under-funded foster care facilities and group homes. For 16 years, the McAveeneys' home has been a safe place for homeless children and teens across the Chicagoland area.
Feeling a need to help, Lilly, the McAveeneys' daughter, asked her mom, 'Who's going to make kids without families feel loved like you make me feel on Valentine's Day? Can we help children living in group homes?" Lilly and her friends made 38 Valentine cards & filled Valentine WeCare Packages for each child.
A little girl who received a gift said, "I used to cry on Valentine's Day because I wanted a mommy so bad. You made me feel better. I knew we could find someone to love us. Please don't forget me." Then Lilly’s sister Ellorie asked, “Who’s going to help kids feel special on their birthdays?” and Fill a Heart 4 Kids (FAH4K) was born.
In 2008, FAH4K started igniting hope with Project Valentine WeCare Packages™ to help children living in group facilities feel loved and remembered on Valentine's Day and other holidays. FAH4K gained 501(c)(3) status in 2015, broadening its ability to support at-risk Illinois youth. Today, FAH4K supports over 2,400 foster and homeless children annually by providing critical necessities, food, clothing, educational support, life skills opportunities, and enriching hands-on volunteer opportunities to "Build Brighter Futures 4 Kids".
Fill a Heart 4 Kids™
provides homeless, at risk, and foster children food, critical necessities, life skills & educational support to empower & Build Brighter Futures 4 Kids!
Fill a Heart 4 Kids™ "Goal"
is for homeless youth and foster children to heal, feel valued and receive critical resources and opportunities from the community to achieve Brighter Futures 4 Kids!
In Illinois, there are approximately 25,000 unaccompanied homeless youth and nearly 3,400 foster youth
waiting to be adopted. State resources are woefully inadequate and do not provide enough basic necessities for homeless and foster youth. These precious children have experienced unimaginable pain and suffering.
They struggle to focus in school because they are worried about finding a safe place to sleep at night, food, school supplies or clean clothes. They feel shame and sadness when they are bulled for wearing dirty clothes or when they hear classmates talk about birthday parties and holiday festivities.
Some resort to trafficking themselves to obtain basic necessities. Many stop attending school.
In partnership with teachers, social workers, principals and vetted social services organizations, we work to help the most vulnerable children. We provide critical supplies to restore dignity, reduce peer shaming and increase academic attendance. We welcome children into our beautiful newly-renovated facility where we provide life skills opportunities, educational programs and special celebrations to increase foster children's self-confidence and sense of belonging.
We tutor at group homes, host special events and transform holidays into special experiences to help children feel loved and remembered. We rely on our vast volunteer network and purchase supplies by the pallet tax-free at reduced rates to maximize the efficiency of our operations, reduce our overhead and ensure our donors' dollars go further.
WHAT WE DO
FAH4K sponsors over 2,400 at-risk youth annually in various capacities. Each year, we host over 400 volunteer experiences for individuals, groups, corporations and team-building experiences to leverage resources
and services to create the best outcome for children in desperate need.
We provide foster, homeless, and at-risk youth with:
MEAL SECURITY: We distribute over 230,000 pounds of food and food gift cards annually to help children get through Thanksgiving, Winter Break, Spring Break, Summer Break and weekends. Youth without access to food pantries need help to avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations just to eat.
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT: We provide over 50,000 school supplies to foster and homeless youth annually so they can attend school prepared and ready to learn without shame. We also provide tutoring to children in group homes. We provide the children opportunities to volunteer with us to show them how far they've come.
WINTER COMFORT: We provide over 2,000 winter coats, blankets, and seasonal clothing for children annually
LIFE SKILLS: At our facility, we provide STEM programming including coding classes, science programs led by industry professionals, Business Incubator Classes with financial advisors, Cooking classes led by professional chefs, Cooking & Butterfly Gardens, Book Club, Food and Nutrition class, Healing Art classes & First Aid Classes.
CELEBRATIONS: We host special life cycle events including birthday and graduation celebrations at our store in Lake Forest and within local group homes to help children heal and feel valued.
CONFIDENCE BUILDING INITIATIVES: We offer tens of thousands of seasonal WeCare Packages to help children feel special and cared for during holidays.
DIGNITY RESTORATION: We sponsor tens of thousands of Toiletries 4 Dignity packages and other critical necessities for children each year to provide them with dignity and to increase school attendance.
Individuals, Groups and Team Building Experiences:
4 Kids Care Packages are filled with gifts and special items to celebrate birthdays and holidays for rescued and homeless children who would otherwise receive nothing.
4 Kids Survival BacPacs™ include immediate basic necessities including blankets, toiletries, and food for homeless youth struggling to survive.
4 Kids Brighter Futures Programs™ give kids tutoring, life skills, and cultural experiences to allow them to succeed and give them possibilities for a brighter future!
4 Kids Special Events™ bring volunteers and children together in group settings where they can go to a movie, celebrate a birthday, a special holiday, and even "Trunk-or-Treat"! Our community events help children build upon happy experiences. It helps children who have suffered from abandonment, abuse or trafficking to heal and feel loved & remembered.