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Bears to honor Hephzibah Children's Association


The Bears will return to Soldier Field on Sunday, which means another local charity will receive a grant from the Community All-Pros Initiative.

This week's recipient of a $100,000 grant will be Hephzibah Children's Association, which offers short- and long-term group homes for abused and neglected children, child welfare and family services, foster care and adoption programs and award-winning daycare on a sliding scale for families of all income levels.

Hephzibah Children's Association traces its roots back to 1897 in Oak Park when Mary Wessels brought two orphan boys into her home. When the local orphanage burned down, Wessels brought in a dozen more children. Hephzibah, which was the name of Wessels's mother, means "nurturing mother" in Hebrew.

"This incredible gift will have tremendous impact on the lives of up to 50 young children who call Hephzibah their home each year," said Hephzibah Children's Association Executive Director Merry Beth Sheets. "Our children receive intensive therapeutic services, and for each one, Hephzibah Home is their first experience of living in a safe, loving, hope-filled home. We are the place where they begin to heal from the extreme abuse, neglect and other trauma they experienced. This gift tells our children, and our community of caregivers and supporters that the entire Chicago Bears family believes in them is cheering for them and stands with them through their long journey to recovery."

Today, Hephzibah Children's Association serves over 1,000 children.

The Community All-Pros Initiative is an opportunity for the team to show its gratitude to the community that has supported it since 1921. Ten grants will be awarded over the course of the season before every home game, totaling $1 million.

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