Teen helps bring 2,000 ‘Journey Bags’ to foster kids

Posted at 10:35 AM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 10:35:18-04

GENEVA, Ill. (WGN-TV) -- A boy's simple wish has morphed into something far bigger than he ever imagined, according to WGN.

Micah Wilson, 13, witnessed firsthand just how tough it was for other kids being juggled through the foster care system.

He wanted to do something for those kids to have something they could take with them that was theirs regardless of where they slept at night.

“Normally when kids go from house to house they take garbage bags with their stuff in it, so I thought it would be a good idea to give them backpacks,” he said.

He called the backpacks 'Journey Bags' and filled them with, not just essentials, but things that would make a kid feel at home.

“For a lot of these kids, it's something they can call their own. It's something they can hold on to. I know Micah makes sure every bag has a teddy bear or some kind of stuffed animal and that’s huge because it's stability in what is otherwise an unstable time,” Pete Sutton, a foster care parent, said.

For months, Micah worked to raise money. He raised enough to build nearly 440 Journey Bags. But he was still a far cry from his goal of 2,000.

That's until a friend sent Micah's mom a link to the BMO200 Fountain, the bank's virtual wishing well designed to give back to the community.

Her wish was that Micah would be able to complete his goal of 2,000 Journey Bags.

“Flipped the coin and I waited and honestly I didn't think that anything would come of it,” Courtney Wilson, Micah’s mom, said.

"Micah's mom made a wish in the fountain. It’s one thing to be able to grant a wish like that because it's part of your job but what was really special was that he had already done so much work,” Justine Fedak, BMO200 Wish Fountain, said.

“Got a phone call and said we want to see Micah's wish come true,” Micah’s mom said.

BMO Harris sent in 80 bank employees to a warehouse in Pilsen, where they secretly packed every single bag filled with all the things a kid needs and a message that they matter.

“He had no clue. Just to see him realize that this was about his wish for others coming true, that's a special thing,” Micah’s mom said.

“My cheeks hurt because I was smiling so much,” Micah said.

There are now 2,000 Journey Bags stacked high in boxes waiting to be handed out to foster kids.

Micah will be personally handing them off to county agencies throughout the state starting this weekend.

“We are lucky his mom made that wish so we could be part of this amazing journey he has taken us on,” Fedak said.

A simple wish granted not just for Micah but for the thousands of kids who will receive the Journey Bags this year.

Five separate county agencies will receive 400 Journey Bags each because of this one wish that was paid forward.

For more information, visit Micah's Journey Bags Facebook page.