As the holiday season rapidly approaches the Chicagoland area, brisk gusts of wind rustle through the air, sending chills down the necks of all who step outside. Hot cocoa inevitably emerges from the backs of cupboards to be poured into steaming hot mugs. To kick off this season filled with turkey, football, and giving thanks, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois joined forces with Chicago Bears’ Deon Bush to host “Pass It on With Deon,” an event focused on passing along the goodwill of the season to those in our community.
On November 18, over 80 SOS Illinois children and families who are served through our three Villages and Casa Tepeyac, attended a Thanksgiving celebration dedicated to inspiring our children’s spirits of gratitude. Prior to joining the families gathered in our Chicago Village multipurpose room, Bush spoke briefly with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois CEO, Tim McCormick, about the importance of service, giving back, and supporting children in foster care during the holiday season.
Bush Shares Heart for Youth Empowerment
“Having this opportunity to share a meal is one way I can pay forward all that I am grateful for,” said Bears Safety Deon Bush. “I am looking forward to seeing the children express their appreciation to our veterans. Having a space that allows the children at SOS Illinois to pass on that feeling of thankfulness is empowering and changes what it means to be a part of the season of giving.”
After the interview, Bush entered the multipurpose room to the gathering of children and families shouting his name: “Deon! Deon! Deon!” Entering the room, Bush offered high-fives and hugs to each to his excited fans. Bush addressed the group, offering words of wisdom to the children and families.
“The holiday season can often be a difficult time of year for many of our children, and to have Deon at our Village for a Thanksgiving meal reminds us that food it always better shared,” said McCormick. “When we eat together, the food provides both sustenance and value to our daily lives, and creates a much brighter season for our children and families.”
Deon Bush and SOS Children’s Villages “Pay it Forward”
Following the opening remarks, McCormick introduced a crucial part of “Pass It on With Deon:” a service project for children and Foster Parents to enjoy. During the project, Bush assisted children with crafting ‘thank-you’ cards to be delivered to the homes of nearby veterans. Through this exercise, children practiced the importance of thanking those who have served our country to protect our safety and preserve our rights. Thanking a Veteran is important to us, especially as many of their values line up with the ideal characteristics of an impactful Foster Parent. Read here to see how Veterans are currently involved in the mission of SOS Illinois. Additionally some children chose to use extra time at the end to create cards for biological and Foster Parents, teachers, and friends.
Deon Bush Provides Nourishing Food and Experiences
At the conclusion of the project, the evening’s centerpiece was introduced: a delicious turkey dinner provided by the Chicago Bears. As families gathered in line for the Thanksgiving meal, Deon Bush joined the catering team in serving the meal to all in attendance. Children were delighted to see the Bear’s player serving up mashed potatoes and gravy, pausing here and there for photos and handshakes.
As participants ate, Bush spent time signing last-minute autographs, chatting with some of our teens interested in playing professional football, and thanking staff and Foster Parents for the work they put into our community all year.
Giving Thanks to Deon Bush and The Chicago Bears
SOS Illinois is grateful for the generous hearts of Chicago Bears teammates, such as Bush and Akiem Hicks (who also visited us this fall). We reminisce and rejoice about the “paying it forward” attitude that has been at the forefront of the Chicago Bears’ hearts all 100 seasons.
We believe that the season of giving includes giving back to those who serve us all year. We remember that in order to be truly grateful for all that we receive from donors, partners, and other supporters, we must take time to “pay it forward.”
Join Deon Bush in Getting Involved with SOS Illinois
Feeling encouraged to give back to your community? Whether it be through becoming a Foster Parent, finding out ways to Volunteer, or Giving online, take a moment this holiday season to inspire others through your gratitude.