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Scout raises money to buy gifts for every foster child in two counties

In Communities that KARE, a scouting "Santa" brings gifts for foster children in Isanti and Kanabec counties.

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. — Santa doesn’t always have a sleigh. Sometimes, he has mom with a van and a cart. But he does come bearing gifts.

This Santa has hundreds.

Jonathan, or "J.J." Werner is 11-years-old and a Scout. Werner said he has only been one for nine months. But he takes his service projects seriously.

"I adopted all the foster care kids in Kanabec County and Isanti County for Christmas," Werner said.

That's up to 120 kids.  

How did he do it? Werner said it was through his popcorn sale money.

"I sold $46,194 in popcorn this year," he said proudly.

That meant he could use about $5,800 on all these presents.

Werner had many elves of all sizes through his troop to help wrap gifts. His mom Serena Kolk helped, too.

"He loves to give back to his community and people in need," she said.

It's a need that's close to his heart.

"My dad spent 14 years in foster care and based upon stories that he had being in foster care, it doesn’t really sound like they had much of a Christmas," Werner said.

It has changed since then according to Isanti Health and Human Services Supervisor Ann Stackpool-Gunderson. She is taking in the loads of wrapped presents this day from Werner.

"How is he gonna do this? I mean it’s a lot of kids and he’s one youth and how’s he gonna pull this off?" Werner said she thought initially.  "He was undeterred," she said.

Just like you’d expect a Santa to be.

Werner has dropped off presents in Kanabec County also. He said he got a job offer from the supervisor while he was unloading gifts there.  

"He was like, 'When you're old enough to get a job, just call me," Werner said.

Werner said he hopes to make this even bigger next year. He wants to give presents to foster children in Anoka County too.

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