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Pay It Forward | 7-year-old boy helps kids in foster care

AJ Holland wanted to do a service project with his dad, donating hoodies to kids in need

SILVIS, Ill. — Seven-year-old AJ Holland has a heart for other kids in his community, especially those who may not have as much as he does. 

“I wanted to give hoodies because maybe they don’t have any clothes to wear," said AJ. 

Tony Holland is the District Governor for District 1H for Lions Clubs International. AJ is his son and wanted to do a service project with him this year. He wanted to donate hoodies to kids in need. 

“When we were trying to figure out who he wanted to deliver hoodies to, he was explaining children in foster care. So we locked in on that… so it was foster care and/or kids in crisis," said Tony. The project, "H" Is For Hoodies has been collecting gently used and new hoodies for several months now. This desire to help out his community earned AJ the Pay It Forward award, sponsored by Ascentra Credit Union

“I asked him how many hoodies and he said a thousand and your heart just feels so full knowing that your son, who was 6 at the time, wanted nothing more than to help kids in foster care," said Tony. The goal of 1,000 hoodies has already been exceeded! Their deadline is June 30th when the Lions year ends. 

“We have collected 1,046 hoodies and we still have money in our account for the project and there’s also still a collection box at his school," said Stacy Holland, AJ's mom. Even though they have met their goal, they will still continue to gather hoodies to donate. “This will continue because that money was donated specifically earmarked for hoodies for children in foster care and children in crisis and so at the district level we are going to continue to do that until this money is gone," said Tony. 

The community response has been extremely supportive. Foster care services are so grateful and many people have recognized AJ for his work. He received another award for his project at the Lions Club District convention last Saturday. 

When we asked AJ why he wanted to donate specifically hoodies, his answer will warm your heart. “Because hoodies is like a big hug," said AJ. With the Pay It Forward award, AJ will be able to get about 50 more hoodies to donate! 

If you are interested in getting involved and learning more information you can visit the Silvis Lions Club Facebook page or the Illinois Lions District 1-H Facebook page. 

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.

See previous Pay It Forward award winners:

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