Crystal Lake

‘There's So Many AJs Out There': Crystal Lake Volunteers ‘Stuff the Duffel' For Foster Kids

Steve Yost and his daughter are making donation drop off a family affair.

They told NBC 5 they grieve the loss of Andrew "AJ" Freund, who prosecutors say was murdered by his own parents. Like so many others, Yost and his daughter want to do something in the face of such grief.

"Anything we can do to help," Yost said.

A Crystal Lake doughnut shop is one of more than two dozen businesses allowing residents to drop off items for foster kids who need a second chance.

"I wish I could do so much more," Yost said.

Amy Henning, the owner of a Woodstock women's boutique called Empowher Boutique, says she cries every time one of these bags comes in.

"I think we all just don’t want AJ’s death to be in vain and just wanna help," she said.

Alicia Wehby is a foster mom who organized Stuff the Duffel movement that she runs on Facebook.

"There’s so many AJs out there and I’m seeing so many posts of people saying if I would’ve known, I would’ve adopted him," she said. "Or I would’ve done something. We’re trying to get across, there’s a lot of AJs, you can still do something."

Volunteers are packing bags with things to help the kids to get through the first 24 to 48 hours in a new home.

"We are taking duffels, backpacks, small luggage , blankets toiletries, basically a necessity bag," Wehby said. "For the younger we want soft blankets, stuffed animals, a new box of crayons, something that’s just theirs."

John Martin, a volunteer stuffing bags, said the donation drive is a positive element in a time of such darkness.

"She gave us a place to go, something to do with all of that energy," he said. "(It's a) great feeling instead of sitting around and being upset."

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