Bradley Students Help Crittenton Centers

By Marc Strauss

November 12, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2011 at 10:35 PM CST

PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley student Ashley Horton wants to be a teacher and work with children. On Saturday she was working for them.

"Every month on Saturday we volunteer at numerous locations in the Peoria area," said Horton. "Today we're here volunteering for the Crittenton Centers and for the children. We're decorating for Christmas."

Horton is a member of SERVE, a Bradley student volunteer organization. Almost two dozen members of SERVE spent part of their day transforming a corner of the old Border's bookstore at The Shoppes at Grand Prairie into a Crittenton Centers Stocking Stuffer Store.

They're also making gifts to be sold at there. A year ago sales of items from the Stocking Stuffer Store raised $30,000 for the Crittenton Centers.

"At Crittenton we really do believe that string communities build strong families," said Danielle Easton, the development and marketing director for Crittenton Centers. "When I see these students here helping and working, they're very community minded. That will probably translate once they graduate into their life after college."

And that life will draw upon a wide range of skills. Student Will Parkhurst got busy creating holiday cards.

"The other thing we're doing is crafts," said Parkhurst. "We're creating little gift bags for volunteers, we're making soup cans, we're wrapping candles in burlap to make them look pretty and wintery."

The Stocking Stuffer Store at The Shoppes at Grand Prairie opens December 3rd. Another one, at Northwoods Mall, opens a day earlier.

Children 12 and under can shop for gifts there with the help of a volunteer. Meanwhile, these students can feel good about the gift they're giving by helping the Crittenton Centers.

Saturday's work by the Bradley student volunteers was underwritten by a $2,500 dollar grant from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.