CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - Turning grief into action.
That's what a Crystal Lake mom is doing in the wake of the brutal murder of 5-year-old AJ Freund.
She and a growing number of volunteers are showing their love for AJ by trying to help other troubled children.
If you want to know what love looks like -- and also anger and regret -- walk into a Crystal Lake warehouse and see the mountain of materials donated in the name of little AJ.
"Everything that we're doing here is to honor his memory,” said volunteer Cathy Grindstaff.
It's called "Stuff the Duffel" and it's the inspiration of Crystal Lake mother Alicia Wehby, who has adopted three foster children.
Despondent after AJ's murder, Wehby created a website and Facebook page to solicit donations to help children transitioning into new foster homes.
"Many times the kids come with absolutely nothing. Even for a little one. Foster families might get a newborn and have no diapers. Or a teenager doesn't have basic school supplies for the next day,” Wehby said.
Initially the goal was to stuff a thousand duffel bags to help foster children in the immediate area. But the response has been so tremendous that they now believe they'll be able to stuff thousands to help foster children throughout the state of Illinois.
Donations have been pouring in not just from the Crystal Lake area, but all over the country.
Scores of volunteers will be needed later this month to help stuff the duffels. It's a cathartic experience for a community still in pain.
"It's helping them heal. They feel they're giving back. It's a way for them to move on and do something in the wake of what just happened,” Wehby said.