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PAY IT FORWARD | Gearing up children who go into foster care

Liz Estilow founded My GEAR Outreach, a program that provides kids with a duffle bag of necessities as they go into foster care.

FULTON, Illinois — Sheila Huizenga couldn't hold back tears when talking about her niece Liz Estilow. 

"I am just so proud of her for the compassion that she has for foster kids, that this was so important to her" Huizenga said. 

Estilow started the My GEAR Outreach program seven years ago. The program gives children who are going into foster care a duffle bag full of everything they need to feel welcomed and stuff to call their own. That's why Sheila nominated Liz for the Pay It Forward award. 

Many of the children who go into foster care arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Liz works full-time as a recruiter for foster care parents, so she knows firsthand what these children need. 

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"We really just try to make that first 24 to 48 hours of kids going into care, uh, as less traumatic as it possibly can be," Estilow said. 

Her program changes that. The program covers all ages from infants to 18 years. Every kid receives a 32-inch wheeled bag, filled with all brand new necessities to make their first few days as relaxing as it can be. It doesn't only help the children, but it also helps the foster parents. 

"It's just nice that they don't have to rush out to Walmart. They've got underwear, they got socks, they got pajamas, they got pillows, they got all their toiletries, and it's delivered to their door and they can just, you know, get to know that kiddo," Estilow said. 

You can learn more about the My GEAR Outreach program on its Facebook page. My GEAR is always accepting monetary donations and brand-new item donations. 

Do you know someone that goes above and beyond for his or her community? News 8 and Ascentra Credit Union would like to help you Pay it Forward to them. Click here to nominate someone you know.

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