Jeremy's joy

Jeremy's joy

BROOOOOKKKKEEEE! BROOOOKKKEEE! WHERE IS BROOKE?!" echoed loudly throughout the lobby of the Spiritual Life Center one afternoon.

It was obvious by his yelling that Jeremy* was anxious to find his friend Brooke, Associate Director of Advancement, and Chaplain Gay quickly pointed him in the direction of her office.

"I’ve got friendship bracelets," Jeremy told Brooke excitedly. "I made them myself and I want you to have one."

He proudly flung open a carrying case, filled with over 50 tri-color braided bracelets, and began to rattle off his current inventory by color. Jeremy made the bracelets to give to staff members to show how much he appreciated everything they do for him.

"Jeremy wasn’t exactly sure what my job at Cunningham is, but he had seen me around," Brooke said. "Chaplain Gay explained to him that I was part of the Advancement team, which helps get donations so Cunningham kids can have clothing, special outings and Christmas presents, so he wanted to make sure I got one."

As Brooke perused Jeremy’s collection of bracelets, Jeremy was delighted to learn Brooke’s favorite color is orange—just like his! He picked out an orange bracelet for her, said goodbye and was gone just as quickly as he arrived.

Brooke, however, was left with more than just a new accessory.

"I was overwhelmed by his kind gesture and his spirit of generosity," Brooke said. "You could see how proud he was of the bracelets and how much care he took in making them. The joy he felt by giving me joy was just so sincere and sweet."

It was good to see Jeremy excited because he had recently suffered a big disappointment. Always focused and vocal about wanting to become part of a family with a mom, dad and siblings, Jeremy had that opportunity with a foster family this fall but it didn’t work out, leaving him very discouraged.

As Chaplain Gay helped Jeremy work through this difficult time, they talked about positive things and activities Jeremy could focus on. She also shared with him this bible verse from Acts 20:35: In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

After talking with Chaplain Gay, Jeremy began his friendship bracelet project. He feels if he participates in meaningful acts of kindness during this hard time, goodness will find its way back to him. Doing nice things for others also gives him hope.

In what has been a difficult year for everyone, our hope lies in the countless blessings we see at Cunningham. We are grateful for the many individuals, families and organizations that find joy in buying Christmas gifts for our youth. You too can provide Christmas joy and hope to the youth, adults and families we serve:

Purchase Gifts from our Christmas Wish List:

Our wish list is full of gift ideas that are requested by our youth. You can help fulfill many Christmas wishes by shopping from our general Christmas wish list HERE.

Help us fill the Kids' Shop:

Our youth learn about the spirit of giving and generosity through the Kids' Shop. They write out wish list items for their loved ones and with the help of Cunningham staff, they shop for those special gifts! You can give gently used or new items to the Kids' Shop to make sure our youth have plenty to choose from. Favorite items include bath & body sets, jewelry for women/girls, inexpensive phone accessories, wallets for teens, men and women and hats for men. Please drop off items at Cunningham's Spiritual Life Center by Wednesday, December 9th.

Shop for a specific youth:

If you are interested in helping fulfill a youth's Christmas wish, we can provide you with their specific wish list. Contact Colleen Combes at or 217.337.9058.

Use AmazonSmile when you shop Amazon:

Did you know that when you shop for the holidays at, AmazonSmile donates to Cunningham? We receive 0.5% of the price of all eligible purchases. Only purchases made at are eligible for donations. If you haven't designated Cunningham on AmazonSmile, you can learn how to HERE. We are listed as Cunningham Childrens Home of Urbana Illinois. And for your convenience, you can shop from our Amazon Wish List.

Please deliver all gifts unwrapped to the Spiritual Life Center at Cunningham at 1301 N. Cunningham Avenue in Urbana by Monday, November 30, 2020.

*Our story is real but name has been changed to protect the privacy of our youth.