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Family, friends start Clayton's Gift of Hope to benefit community
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Family, friends start Clayton's Gift of Hope to benefit community

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CROWN POINT — Two weeks ago, a group of moms got together to help Jessica Gaudry's idea come to life. 

Gaudry wanted to find a way to give back to the community for all of the support she has received since her son, Clayton, died after a motorcycle wreck on U.S. 231 earlier this year. 

"It's just a really good distraction, and I think that being able to help another family because the community helped our family so much during all of it, it's been like non-stop," Gaudry recently told The Times.

"I think it's really good for the healing process because it kind of gives you at least a little bit of peace when you're hurting because you can help somebody else."

Two weeks ago, Gaudry with help from Jill Dyrkacz, Kim Jones, Susan Gliem and Laura Shaw, started to make a call for donations to help local families in need through Clayton's Gift of Hope. 

First, they started with one family. Since the response was so huge, Gaudry said they were able to take on three more families. 

"I can't say that I'm shocked," Gaudry said of the community response. 

"Clayton went into the hospital. He went into the ICU on Wednesday, early, early hours of the morning at University of Chicago, and by Sunday, they had a candlelight vigil. ... This community is just amazing," she said while tearing up. 

The organization is still collecting donations for the fourth family, which has eight children. Donations can be dropped off until 2 p.m. Sunday at various locations, including Generation Nutrition in Crown Point, First United Methodist Church in Crown Point, Midwest Training and Ice Center in St. John and Living Stones Church in Crown Point.

Gliem said they wanted to start off with one family to be sure they could give them a great Christmas. A couple days later, they were able to take on another family. 

She added the group has tried to tailor the donations to each family's needs. 

The donations have grown through social media, word of mouth and Clayton's friends, the group agreed. 

"They love Clayton, and this has been the perfect project for the kids to be involved and give back," Dyrkacz said. 

The group will meet at Living Stones Church in Crown Point, 909 Pratt St., from 5-8 p.m. Sunday to wrap all of the presents. 

"I know how proud he would be of this, of us moms for bringing it all together because he just he would have loved to be here," Gaudry said while crying, with the other moms tearing up. 

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South Lake County Reporter

Mary Freda is the South Lake County reporter at The Times. She is a proud Ball State graduate, where she studied news journalism and Spanish. You can reach Mary at mary.freda@nwi.com or 219-853-2563.

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