Rockford comes together to bring Ellie home

Jennifer Gard knows first-hand that kids need to have a loving home to help them through life. She’s been a school social worker in Rockford Public Schools for the past 12 years. After many months of discussion and prayers, Jennifer, her husband Brian, and their three kids (Andrew 13  Addison 11 and Ian 7) submitted their application in the spring of 2018 to adopt another child. Ellie is a 3 year old little girl in China who has Down Syndrome and needs a family. The Gards found her through the Bamboo Project, which is a specific program through Bethany for waiting children with Down Syndrome. “After exploring the program it became very clear to us that this was the path God intended for our family.  We submitted our application in November 2018 and made a commitment to the Bamboo project.  After completing our home study in February 2019 we were matched right away with Ellie who is absolutely amazing!” Jennifer says. The Gards hope to travel to China to bring her home by October or November this year.

Rockford friends and acquaintances have been rallying around the Gards, helping them raise the almost $40,000 it will cost to bring her home.  Several families donated items for a big garage sale in June and raised $2,600.  Kids in Rockford brought in $800 in June with a lemonade stand.  Friends of the Gards have been doing a We Help Two sock sale. Cute socks with stripes and polka dots in bright, fun colors are $15 for pack of 3 pair. Each pack brings another $9 to Ellie. The sock sales have already raised $4,500.  Clara Cookies, the Rockford protein cookie company, is donating $10 to the Ellie Fund for every box of cookies they sell in July.  Clara Cookies had an “Ellie Booth” at the Rockford Farmer’s Market on July 6 and made $230 in profit for Ellie. They had another booth the Veg Bash in Grand Rapids on July 14 and raised another $100. They have already raised over $900 for Ellie in just two weeks with a goal of $2,000 by the end of July.

There’s still time to help Ellie! This Saturday, July 20, the Team Orphans Cookie 5K at Robinette’s Apple Haus at 8:00 am will have Clara Cookies and We Help Too socks for sale with all profits going to the Ellie Fund. They will also have a Change for Change jar where people can drop off change for Ellie.  You can also order Clara Cookies online for Ellie at and pick them up in Rockford, or send them to friends and family all over the country. For every box sold, $10 will be donated to Ellie.  The Clara Cookie pick up location will have the remaining socks for sale too. Clara Cookies can also be purchased at Johanna’s VanderWall’s hair salon, Studio J, in Belmont.  Friends are also planning a Premier Jewelry fundraiser
for August.

For more information on fundraisers for Ellie, check out the Team Orphans Facebook page. Follow Ellie’s journey home at