PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — State Representative Jehan Gordon Booth’s mother died on December 20th 13 years ago. She decided to turn her pain into purpose by creating a Mother’s Wish in 2018.

“I thought about all of the other children in this community that frankly are younger than I was when lost I my mother that don’t get the ability to spend the holidays with their mother or their father. They aren’t able to be with their biological family. Oftentimes because the parent could be deceased, a parent could be incarcerated or they can just simply be in foster care,” said Gordon Booth.

Every year children who are either in foster care or whose mother is incarcerated gather to play games and receive gifts.

“Growing up I had foster brothers and sisters. And I just never forgot as much love as my mom, my father, and we would pour into many of my foster brothers and sisters there was still a piece missing from them because they weren’t able to be with their families,” Gordon Booth said.

Because of her upbringing, helping kids who are in foster care is second nature for Gordon Booth. When it comes to helping children who have mothers who are incarcerated Gordon Booth says she saw a void that needed to be filled.

“In the work that I’ve done over the past eight years on criminal justice reform, I’ve had the ability to engage with a lot of women who have experienced incarceration and what it does to the bond between particularly a mother and a child when that parent is incarcerated. It’s significant,” she said.

Family Core is an agency that helps with adoptions and foster care. CEO Ann Lading-Ferguson says events like A Mother’s Wish help create positive memories for children.

“It takes every one of us focusing on the children who are future leaders in our community. And so it behooves us to work with making sure that not only are we providing good education and all of that but also fun. They’re kids,” said Lading-Ferguson.

This year 139 children went shopping at the gift table. They also had the opportunity to get free flu shots and COVID vaccines.