The seventh-grader said he bought about 600 presents totaling approximately $11,300.
A 12-year-old Boy Scout has played the role of secret Santa for the second year in a row, purchasing Christmas presents for more than 100 foster children and children in shelters who might not otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday season. Jonathan Werner claimed that learning about his father's personal experience growing up in foster care gave him the motivation to carry out his charitable endeavor. "Based upon stories that I have from him, it didn't really sound like they had much of a Christmas," he told Good Morning America.
"I was in foster care from the time that I was five to [when] I got adopted at about 12, so like seven years of my childhood, and I don't remember my Christmases ever really being very special until after I was adopted," said Jonathan's dad, Steven Kolk. "So having him do a project like this and knowing that where I was those years, I could have had somebody like [Jonathan], it would have been really special." This year, basic necessities and personal care products will be given to 138 children in four Minnesota counties—Kanabec, Isanti, Pine, and Chisago—as well as some kids in a portion of Anoka County. Jonathan also chose gift cards and toys for the kids. He made his selections from a variety of shopping trips using lists that the neighborhood social workers with whom he partnered would share with him.
"For example, if the kid had asked for a Lego set of some sort, we would go off of age and gender and then we would buy a Lego set for them, and based upon other interests, we would also try to find a Lego set that also intertwines with those interests as well," Jonathan said. The seventh-grader estimated that he spent about $11,300 on about 600 gifts in total. He sold popcorn to members of the neighborhood community to pay for the gifts, and this year, he made more money than he anticipated. However, Jonathan said he's been glad to give back throughout the entire experience.
"I've definitely learned a lot throughout this. I've learned money management. I've learned other things of that nature as well. It also makes me really happy to know that kids that wouldn't really get a Christmas are getting a Christmas because of my project," Jonathan said. His parents claim to be really impressed. "I'm proud of what he chose to do and the number of people that he can reach with this project," Steven Kolk told GMA. "It's really special. I have seen it move not even myself, it has inspired me personally. But I've also seen it inspire our other children and friends of ours and other people in the community at the stores and things like that and so it's really special. It really brings a tear to your eye and makes you feel like he's really making a difference for people," Serena Kolk added.
This Boy Scout bought over $11,000 in Christmas presents for kids living in domestic violence shelters and foster care! 🎁❤️https://t.co/2VGlNdgV26 pic.twitter.com/6GRB9Ld1y1— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 21, 2022
Christmas is a challenging period for many individuals, including those who are homeless, recently bereaved, lonely, or struggling to make ends meet, even if it is a time for exchanging presents and enjoying mulled wine. Christmas is, of course, also the season of goodwill. The Christmas spirit and, of course, Christianity, in general, are intrinsically linked with deeds of compassion. Taking care of the homeless, the underprivileged, the elderly, and other less fortunate people can make both the giver and the recipient happier. We need to instill this discipline of protecting family values as well as extending our hearts towards the less fortunate people nearby in a world torn by Covid-19, death, and sorrow.