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Our Story

Helping Children Living Without Families Feel Loved!

The McAveeney family began taking in homeless children in the Chicagoland area in 2007.  They learned thousands of foster kids living in group homes for children had lost hope that they would never be adopted.  A staggering number of babies, children and street kids were in desperate need.  They felt they needed to do more  - to show these kids they are valuable, important, and there are families that care about them.

One day, McAveeney's daughter Lilly said: "Mom what about Valentine's Day?  Who's going to make all the kids feel loved like you love me?  What can we do to help kids living in children's homes feel loved?"  Lilly invited her friends to her home to make care packages and they wrote personalized notes to 48 foster children.  Lilly and her family hand-delivered each gift bag to sweet foster children.  Then, Lilly’s sister Ellorie asked, “Who’s going to help the kids feel special on their birthdays? And what about school supplies -- who buys them? ...and Fill a Heart 4 Kids mission was born. 


Facts - The wonderful staff that take care of rescued children wish they could do more to help their children, but state budget cuts prevent them from giving their children typical experiences that help them feel loved and remembered.  In school these broken children feel insecure and ashamed because they are excluded from those simple childhood experiences.  They can't escape from hearing their classmates talking about birthday parties, family movie nights, Trick-or-Treating, visiting their grandparents, activities after school, and Thanksgiving dinner with their loving families - it's painful to go to school.  It seems like every month there's an event or holiday that they have never experienced.   It's difficult for children to focus in school when they feel left out.  

Foster Story

Project PenPal© at Fill a Heart 4 Kids
A thank you note from a foster child.
Thank you letters

The McAveeney family then started delivering 4Kids CarePackages© and personalized notes to more children's homes. Before they knew it, they began receiving hundreds of thank you notes from kids living in these institutions. The children, especially the teens, shared how they loved receiving letters and care packages because it made them feel loved and gave them hope.

Andrew told them it meant so much to him to get candy and a new pair of socks because he didn't have any family.  Angie said every Valentine's Day she pretended the room moms at school were her mom so she wouldn't cry. Angie told the McAveeneys, "I LOVE Valentine's Day now! I don't have to pretend anymore because I have a family that loves me." Another teen boy told them how he kept his first Valentine’s note and hung it on his wall because when he opened his eyes in the morning, it was the first thing he saw. It made him happy because he thought he finally had a "mom" that cared. The kids asked the family not to forget them...the tradition grew.

Filling Hearts with Love...

What originally started out as 48 broken hearts  has grown to 1,350 hopeful hearts, over 6,000 yearly volunteers & 4Kids Brighter Futures!

VOLUNTEER NOW Small gestures make a BIG difference in the lives of children who have been abused and discarded!!!

Project Awesome© -Highschool students volunteer to help kids to feel good about learning at Fill a Heart 4 Kids!

"Your contributions are making a difference!

You've warmed thousands of hearts and given children hope!"

Lilly McAveeney

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